Internet activist group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the apparent hack of a U.S. government website on Feb. 3, less than a week after defacing two other sites as part of the group's ongoing Operation Last Resort.
According to ZDNet, Anonymous hacked the website of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and posted a spreadsheet on the site that appeared to contain the "login information... credentials, IP addresses, and contact information of American bank executives." ZDNet also reported that names in the data dump matched those of current "management at community banks, community credit unions and more, across the United States"
The Twitter account for Operation Last Resort, through which Anonymous has been coordinating its online response to the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, claimed that the credentials of 4,000 U.S. bank executives had been obtained via Federal Reserve computers:
The Huffington Post contacted the Federal Reserve about the potential security breach, but a spokesman would not comment on Anonymous' claim, or confirm that a statement on the matter was forthcoming.
Federal Reserve computers have been hacked before. In 2010, a Malaysian man who was arrested in a credit card scheme managed to hack into and damage 10 computers associated with a Federal Reserve training system, Bloomberg News reported at the time. However, "no data or information was accessed or compromised" in that attack.
At time of writing, the ACJIC site was back online. HuffPost contacted a spokeswoman for the site to confirm the cyberattack, but inquiries were not returned by press time.
On Jan. 28, members of the House Oversight Committee sent an open letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that posed tough questions about the government's prosecution of Aaron Swartz. The deadline that the letter gives for a response is Feb. 4. Anonymous' @OpLastResort tweeted that hacktivists' actions taken on Feb. 3 were meant to highlight that deadline.
At the time of his death, Swartz faced dozens of years in prison on 13 felony counts associated with his alleged scraping of more than 4 million documents from JSTOR, an online library for academic journals and other scholarly resources. A statement released by Swartz's family called his suicide "the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach."
Launched in January, Operation Last Resort demands "reform of computer crime laws" in light of Swartz's death. OpLastResort has defaced government sites and threatened to release sensitive information, but had not leaked any information until the recent data dump, according to Gizmodo.
Previously, members of Anonymous had petitioned the White House to recognize distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks as a valid form of protest, akin to sit-ins. The petition, which expires Feb. 6, also seeks for those jailed over DDoS to be released and have the offense expunged from their records.
In 2011, Anonymous threatened the Federal Reserve website with DDoS attacks unless Chairman Ben Bernanke stepped down. According to CNET, the group is critical of the Federal Reserve's involvement in the global financial crisis.