You are hereUSA Today: U.S. Chamber joins BofA in denying ties to disinformation campaigns

USA Today: U.S. Chamber joins BofA in denying ties to disinformation campaigns

February 11, 2011- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- like the Bank of America -- is scrambling to distance itself from a cache of stolen e-mails that continue to disgorge stunning details of how high-stakes, corporate-backed disinformation campaigns get birthed.

The chamber and BofA are embroiled in mirror-image controversies stemming directly from the spontaneous hack last Sunday of HBGary Federal, a digital intelligence firm. The hack was pulled off by the elite global hacking group known as Anonymous.

That's not all. More e-mails swiped during that hack are very likely to be released publicly in the next few days, says Gregg Housh, a well-known activist and close observer of Anonymous.

For more on what stirred Anonymous to hack into HBGary Federal, and specifically target its CEO Aaron Barr, see our post from earlier today.

Housh emphasized that he does not participate in Anonymous' attacks, nor is he a spokesman for the hacking group, which may be best known for seeking revenge on corporations that attempted to cripple WikiLeaks.

But Housh regularly hangs around public Internet Relay Chat rooms where Anonymous members are known to congregate. He was in such a chat room with about 100 others last weekend when the HBGary hack was hatched. So he had a ring side seat.

Housh says a 16- year-old girl who part of a team of five elite hackers that conducted the hack played a pivotal role. She tricked a systems administrator into giving her access deep inside the company's network by persuading the admin into letting her use a temporary password: changeme123.

The team then swooped in to quickly deface the company's website and destroy data and applications, including wiping out back-up programs. They broke into the company's Google Enterprise cloud-based e-mail service and spent several hours downloading e-mail from Barr and five other senior employees. The entire hack took about eight or nine hours, with most of that time spent downloading emails, estimates Housh.

About 50,000 of Barr's e-mails very quickly got released on the Internet. But roughly 27,000 e-mails from the account of HBGary co-founder Greg Hoglund were held in reserve.



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