February 17, 2011

Anonymous Hackers Threatening ‘Real-World Violence’

A Sacramento, California-based computer security company has withdrawn from an industry conference after receiving threats of real-world violence from a group of hackers that had previously launched cyberattacks against them.

A subsidiary of the HBGary Inc. had been scheduled to give a presentation regarding the group of hackers collectively known as Anonymous at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week.

However, in a statement released on the company's website, officials from the firm said that members of Anonymous "illegally broke into computer systems and stole proprietary and confidential information" from them.

"This breach was in violation of federal and state laws, and stolen information was publicly released without our consent," they continued.

Furthermore, "in addition to the data theft, HBGary individuals have received numerous threats of violence including threats at our tradeshow booth," the statement said.

"In an effort to protect our employees, customers and the RSA Conference community, HBGary has decided to remove our booth and cancel all talks," they added. "HBGary is continuing to work intensely with law enforcement on this matter and hopes to bring those responsible to justice."

Recent activity by the group Anonymous has been focused on those companies that have terminated previous service agreements with the Wikileaks file sharing website, which has come under fire in recent months for its leaking of US State Department and military documents, many of which were classified.

According to AFP reports, HBGary was targeted earlier this month by the organization "because the firm was working with federal agents to expose their identities."

"Anonymous took credit for breaking into the website of HBGary Federal, stealing tens of thousands of email messages and temporarily routing traffic to a page with a vitriolic message," the French news agency added in a Wednesday article. "The HBGary hack was more sophisticated than the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks last year on the Amazon, Visa and MasterCard websites in apparent retaliation for their decisions to stop working with Wikileaks."

According to Robert McMillan of IDG News, "HBGary has been under fire for several days now after its Web sites, corporate email system and Twitter accounts were hacked, and details of a company business proposal to discredit Wikileaks were posted to the Internet."

HBGary Federal's CEO Aaron Barr, who according to McMillan had discovered the identities of several Anonymous members, had been scheduled to deliver a speech on the hackers and their activities Monday.

However, he told the IDG News reporter that he had been "receiving death threats" and there had been "lots of talk" amongst Anonymous members that they would be "harassing us at our booth and sending people to heckle" him during the conference.


On the Net: