Personal information on some 4,000 people in the banking industry, including bank officers, was posted online Sunday by the hacker collective Anonymous.
The list was initially posted to the website for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC), then apparently taken down by that site's operators. The ACJIC did not respond to a request for comment about the incident.
However, the list was also posted elsewhere online, and remains available through Google's web cache. It contains contact information on people with a range of job titles, from cashier to C-level officers to bank presidents. Phone calls placed to several of the people on the list indicates that the tally is current and accurate.
The list also contains logins, hashed passwords and their "salts" -- random characters added to a hashed password to make it more difficult to crack.
"That means they had to have very deep access to get those combinations," Cameron Camp, a senior researcher with Eset, said in an interview.
What's concerning is that the list involves people at many types of financial institutions, Camp said. "How were they able to get logins and passwords and salts for that many bankers?" he said. "That's kind of scary."
Anonymous claims it filched the list from computers belonging to the Federal Reserve. Just as the Super Bowl was ending, Anonymous declared on Twitter, "Now we have your attention America: Anonymous's Superbowl Commercial 4k banker dox via the FED."
The Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve did not respond to a request for comment.
"Breaking into the Federal Reserve just sounds like it would be above and beyond [Anonymous's] skill set," Jeffrey Carr, CEO of Taia Global and author of Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld, said in an interview.
If the list didn't come from the Federal Reserve, where could it have come from? A common field in the data -- CONTACTID -- may offer a clue, according to Camp.
"It's easy to imagine the source as a banker industry group, government clearinghouse, or similar repository where they were members," he said.
Camp noted that the exposed passwords, if used elsewhere by the people on the list, could allow for additional security breaches.
"...If the members don't update their information on other sites where they re-used username/password combinations, this may just be the beginning of their personal pain from the breach, which could then easily extend to other forms of identity theft, scams and financial impact for them," he said.
This latest move by Anonymous has been linked to its OpLastResort campaign, which was apparently launched in retaliation for the suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet pioneer and free information advocate. Anonymous, as well as some criminal justice and computer experts, believe Swartz was driven to take his own life by an overzealous federal prosecutor.
A week ago Anonymous launched the first phase of OpLastResort by attacking the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. After hijacking the site, the hacktivists threatened to release information pilfered from its servers unless the United States reformed its justice system.
Following Anonymous's action, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warning him that the panel is scrutinizing whether the charges and penalties leveled at Swartz were appropriate, and whether political factors influenced the prosecution efforts.
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