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E-Mails Hacked By 'Anonymous' Raise Concerns

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E-Mails Hacked By 'Anonymous' Raise Concerns

Technology

E-Mails Hacked By 'Anonymous' Raise Concerns

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

There is more fallout from the WikiLeaks saga, and it involves a pro- WikiLeaks hacker group called Anonymous. One of the group's targets was the Internet security company HB Gary Federal. Anonymous found out it was being investigated by the company, so it hacked its servers and stole thousands of emails.

As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, the content of those emails is raising concerns.

MARTIN KASTE: Anonymous really hates HB Gary Federal. The security company was trying to use social networks to unmask the members of Anonymous, so they struck back. This man, who calls himself Owen, says his Anonymous colleagues broke into the company's servers. Hackers have a name for what they did.

OWEN: They decided to just rape his servers and take all the information they wanted.

KASTE: To raid or rape, what did you just say?

OWEN: Forgive that term, it just came - rape in an Internet term, you know, is to go in and take everything out of somebody's server.

KASTE: Whatever the term, it was not a nice thing that Anonymous did to HB Gary Federal. But now that the company's emails are out, it appears it was also willing to do some not-nice things.

One email contains a business proposal for Bank of America, which is rumored to be the subject of a future document dump by WikiLeaks. The email suggests feeding fake documents to WikiLeaks to discredit it. It also suggests pressuring WikiLeaks supporters in the media.

One PowerPoint slide says: Most of them, if pushed, will choose professional preservation over cause.

One of those singled out in the email is Glenn Greenwald, a blogger on Salon.

GLENN GREENWALD: For me, what was most striking about them is just the brazen willingness to commit these sorts of proposals onto paper.

KASTE: Greenwald points to another email, which proposes a campaign on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discredit the Chamber's critics by spreading misinformation on social networks.

In that proposal, HB Gary Federal appears to be working with two other government contractors, and Greenwald says it offers a glimpse into these companies' real attitudes.

GREENWALD: These are pretty serious, well-connected players who are directly involved in creating these kind of proposals. So while the proposal itself is laughable in one sense, in another sense the fact that this just seems so routine to people like this is what I think deserves some more attention.

KASTE: The two other companies, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, say they've cut their ties to HB Gary Federal, and Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say they didn't employ the plans described in the emails.

HB Gary Federal wouldn't comment to NPR, but we did reach Jim Butterworth, a VP at HB Gary Inc., a company with close ties to HB Gary Federal. Its emails were also stolen and its website also hacked.

JIM BUTTERWORTH: They've come at us pretty hard. And people need to know that it hasn't stopped.

KASTE: Butterworth says he doesn't know anything about the proposals that were revealed in the emails, but he doesn't think Anonymous has any right to brag about the information it exposed.

BUTTERWORTH: Before they decided to do what they did and break the law, they had no knowledge of what was in those emails, they had no knowledge of who we were.

KASTE: Butterworth makes it clear he's not about to take lessons in transparency from a group that calls itself Anonymous.

Martin Kaste, NPR News.

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