E-mails concerning Oklahoma City-based company Devon Energy were among the thousands reportedly released by the online group Anonymous, a loosely organized cyberactivist group, after an official at a company Devon used for network security attempted to infiltrate the group.
Anonymous has taken on big groups such as the Church of Scientology, as well as more vulnerable individual Internet users. Often, the group uses distributed denial-of-service attacks to bring the targeted website down. Other times, the group gains access to personal e-mail accounts or websites.
The group is believed to be behind attacks on government websites in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as crashing Visa and MasterCard websites late last year in retaliation for the companies cutting off donations to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Enter Aaron Barr, CEO of HBGary Federal, a computer security firm.
Barr attempted to use different online personae to infiltrate Anonymous in an effort to determine the group’s leadership (though members of the group maintain there is no real leadership) by gleaning details and links from across social media sites.
Apparently, Barr wanted to prove how one could use social media sites to gather intelligence on targets, and went to Financial Times to tell his story. In the interview, Barr said he had the real names of the leadership.
Anonymous’ retaliation against Barr? The group hacked into Barr’s Twitter account, HBGary Federal’s website (which was defaced with a mocking letter from Anonymous) and the company’s e-mail.
The group obtained more than 70,000 e-mails from HBGary Federal and affiliated company HBGary, and posted them online.
Among the random e-mails (some of which reportedly talk about pretty spooky monitoring software, possible plans with other companies against anti-U.S. Chamber of Commerce groups and other elaborate plans to disrupt and discredit WikiLeaks, its supporters and journalists) are several dealing with HBGary’s relationship with Devon.
Locally, some of the e-mails go into minute detail on attempts to remove a particularly nasty worm from several of Devon’s computers, and hint that the malware may have involved some rigs.
A Devon spokesman had no comment.
One e-mail dated Oct. 21, 2010, from HBGary President Penny Leavy stated she was in Tulsa, and bewildered about why anyone would like it there.
“I’m in Tulsa, totally amazed people would love here,” the e-mail states. “Morning TV is certainly interesting, it consists lots of Route 1 types of places.”
U.S. Route 1 is a highway stretching from Northern Maine to South Florida.