Hacking Group 'Anonymous' Takes First Step in 'Master Plan,' Vows to Strike Again

Financial information stolen for charity.

ByABC News
December 26, 2011, 10:35 AM

Dec. 26, 2011 — -- The global activist hacking group Anonymous claims to have obtained thousands of credit card numbers and personal information from the high-profile clients of a leading analytical intelligence company, all in the name of charity.

Up to $1 million was reportedly stolen from Stratfor, in Austin, Texas, a leading provider of military, economic and political analysis for clients that include Apple and the U.S. Air Force.

"#AntiSec plundered 200gb of their mails and more booty," read a tweet by @AnonymousIRC on Saturday.

Anonymous, an online community with no hierarchical organization, had been working with the hacking group Lulzsec on a series of hacking attacks it called Operation Anti-Security, or Operation AntiSec. The operation began in June 2011, with an attack on the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the U.K.'s national law enforcement agency. Since then, attacks have targeted the governments of Brazil, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, NATO, various U.S. law enforcement websites and Fox News.

Anonymous promised that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of an assault on a long list of targets.

"#Antisec has enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of #LulzXmas throught the entire next week," @AnonymousIRC tweeted.

In a statement released today, Anonymous said, "Tomorrow, we will be dropping another enormous dump on our next target: the entire customer database from an online military and law enforcement supply store."

The group said Stratfor was "clueless ... when it comes to database security," noting that many passwords were merely the company's name.

Stratfor's website is currently shut down, with the message, "Site is currently undergoing maintenance."

The company is participating in an ongoing investigation with law enforcement, including the FBI, Kyle Rhodes, the public relations manager, told ABC News.

Stratfor warned its clients against publically supporting the company: "It's come to our attention that our members who are speaking out in support of us on Facebook may be targeted for doing so and are at risk of having sensitive information repeatedly published on other websites."

Victim Says "You're Not Helping Anybody, You're Hurting Everybody"

Allen Barr fell victim to the attack. Now retired, Barr lives on a fixed income and said $700 was stolen from his debit card.

"They're trying to hurt banks and big corporations, they're really hurting just people," said Barr.

Anonymous claims it isn't hurting people but rather donating the stolen money to various charities, like a modern day Robin Hood. Receipts the group posted show donations to the Red Cross and Save the Children Foundation.

"Just because you think you're taking something from the rich and giving to the poor, no you're not. You're not helping anybody, you're hurting everybody," said Barr.

"They have, in the past, hacked into systems, taken money, donated to charities and nonprofits -- that has occurred, but other people are just stealing out of greed," said ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett.

Anonymous has made headlines the world over for a string of high-profile hacks the group claims to have carried out -- from allegedly hitting the websites for Paypal, Visa and Mastercard to name a few.

"They can clean out your banking account or use your credit card number and charge a number of items before its ever figured out," said Garrett.