UPDATE 3/12/2013 3:40pm EST: Credit reporting agencies Equifax and TransUnion Corp have confirmed that at least some of the credit reports in question have been improperly accessed. Equifax specifically states that it “can confirm that fraudulent and unauthorized access to
four consumer credit reports has occurred.”
The Los Angeles Police Department and FBI are said to be investigating an apparent hacking incident involving several celebrities and prominent political figures.
TMZ reported earlier today:
A website — we’re not disclosing the name — has posted social security
numbers, mortgage amounts, credit card info, car loans, banking and
other info of major celebs. In addition to Beyonce and Jay-Z … the
site has snagged financial dossiers of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Joe Biden, Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Washington Whispers reports that several of the posted phone numbers, such as those for Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, direct to other sources. In addition, there are references to the TV show “Dexter” in the source code and on the website that posted the information, all of which might indicate that the action, or some of it at least, could be a hoax. However, as has been observed with other hacking related stories, sometimes a hoax is equally as damaging, depending upon the circumstances. False claims of hackings, for instance, have been used to spread disinformation, or to divert police and other authorities away from other more pertinent matters. Authorities say they are investigating in this instance, nonetheless.
Political bloggers and activists are also certainly no strangers to being the victims of such incidents, real and hoax. In many cases, the access and misuse of credit reporting information could be illegal, as could be the posting of such information. When it happens, victims are advised not only to contact law enforcement, but their credit reporting agencies as well to report the incident and open an investigation into the matter.
Additional incidents of harassment that include not only doxing of credit and financial information, but the dangerous tactic known as SWATting, have also gained more exposure as celebrities and other higher profile individuals have been victimized. The increased prevalence of SWATtings has even prompted the LAPD to reach out to its local legislators for support in tightening up penalties for perpetrators. (In all honesty, I personally don’t know that expanding or adding new laws is necessarily the best solution – it would seem to me that changing the response, improving inbound call technology and improving the enforcement of existing laws might be another solution to consider).
But if there’s any potential silver lining to this recent doxing incident, if true, then perhaps law enforcement notables like Attorney General Eric Holder and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck will take such incidents much more seriously for “more ordinary” victims now that they’ve both possibly had their own financial and personal information doxed.
I won’t hold my breath for any attention from Holder, given his abysmal response to members of Congress, who have previously pushed him to address the SWATtings of political bloggers.