Given the size of the user base for major shopping and entertainment websites like Amazon.com, Walmart, Xbox Live, and Hulu, the odds that your account was compromised by the antics of hacker group Anonymous are very low. They published 13,000 user names and passwords in a huge text file on Friday; some of the web sites they hit have memberships that run into the tens of millions, making the odds of any individual user being affected at well under one percent. Still, as DailyDot advises, now might be a good time to change your password if you have accounts with any of these websites:
A number of lively hookup and porno sites were also included in the hack — you can see the full, not-safe-for-work list by clicking the DailyDot link above, just in case you have a friend who knows a guy who has a cousin who has an account at one of those joints. A Twitter posting from the hacker group also listed CyberGhost (a security program that prevents WiFi snooping) and gaming companies UbiSoft and Electronic Arts as targets.
In addition to releasing stolen user names and passwords for the Playstation, Xbox, and Origin gaming networks, the keys necessary to install copies of some games (evidently older titles like The Sims 3 and the first Dragon Age) were also published, along with some credit card data pilfered from users of the targeted sites. Evidently the companies themselves were not breached – the data released by Anonymous was accumulated using bot programs and malware that spied on individual users.
As is their wont, Anonymous claimed they “did it for the lulz” (i.e. for fun.) Inconveniencing thousands of people during the holidays and stealing their property is presumably amusing if you’re not one of the victims. The DailyDot notes that some members of Anonymous are “pushing back” and claiming it’s unfair to hold the entire large, amorphous, decentralized band of hackers responsible for the actions of a few members: “If hackers branding themselves as Anonymous carry out a particular action, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any of the same people who have carried out any other Anonymous-branded action.”
Oh, yes it does. Everyone who supports groups like Anonymous is providing support and cover for all of its gremlins. Those who pride themselves as “hacktivists” and “social justice warriors” — totalitarian, arrogant, fallible, and wantonly destructive as they might already be — maintain an environment from which petty thieves and vandals can easily operate. It’s amazing how the anonymity of the Internet allows people to rationalize away sins that would be all too obvious if they were covering for gangs of looters, muggers, and arsonists operating out of property they control in the real world. It would be much more clear that polishing and distributing the tools of mayhem makes an entire group accessories to every low deed perpetrated in their name, using their instruments. It would be easier to see that keeping secrets on behalf of criminals and terrorists loops their allies into their crimes.
But because this is all done behind funny made-up names in the faceless void of the Internet, you’ve still got people who will stroll away from their Anonymous online jamborees with their chests puffed out, fancying themselves noble activists who use hacker weapons to deliver vigilante justice to those judged guilty without trial by their collective… without sparing a second thought for the innocent kid whose Xbox Live account just got stolen, or the parents who were punished with credit-card theft for the “crime” of trying to give their children a nice Christmas. They certainly aren’t thinking about the enormous security costs they impose on legitimate corporations, which pass those costs along to hard-working customers.
It’s long past time for the kids who make groups like Anonymous work to grow up and come to terms with the irresponsibility of their actions. If you keep burning down digital property, eventually people will stop building it, and we will all be left much poorer.