Anonymous Hacks Department Of Justice! But Does It Really Matter?

Brad Chacos

Here's the problem with breathlessly reporting on every purported Anonymous hack the second it happens: most of the time, the breaches don't turn out to be a big deal. Take yesterday for example; after a self-claimed Anonymous hacker posted a 1.7GB torrent containing server files from the "Bureau of Justice" on the Pirate Bay, early headlines blared variations of "OMG! ANON HAX DEPT. OF JUSTICE!" Unfortunately (fortunately?), that's only kinda true.

Reuters made some calls and found out that the hack only breached a single Bureau of Justice Statistics web server. You're probably wondering the same thing we were: what the heck is the Bureau of Justice Statistics? It's a relatively low-profile segment of the DoJ that aggregates and analyzes data about crime. It doesn't exactly seem like an ideal target for the high-profile juicy tidbits Anon is always on the hunt for -- and as it turns out, it wasn't.

The data security experts at Identity Finder downloaded the torrent and examined its contents. (At least, they did so as soon as they could -- the file lacked seeders until late this morning, East Coast Time.) The leaked info, while definitely from a DOJ server, was less than earth-shattering. The torrent contained:

  • A mostly-empty "Mail" folder, with two of the three associated addresses belonging to what appear to be automated administrative accounts
  • Error logs and other everyday server files
  • Graphs and spreadsheets detailing various crime statistics.

None of the files in the torrent contain any sort of critically sensitive personal data, Identity Finder reports.

It just goes to show, folks, that many of the electronic boogeymen propped up by the media (cough, cough, myself included) tend to be full of hot air -- and anyone can say they're an Anonymous hacker. Obviously, any breach of a government agency is a bad thing, but most of the truly dangerous hacks -- the ones that actually put your personal information in the hands of cybercriminals -- never get reported on because they just aren't "sexy" enough to print.

"Due to the fact this attack affected the Department of Justice, this breach received more attention than other more significant breaches of late, including the billing and customer support tech company, WHMCS, which was ransacked and taken offline by hackers, and their entire customer database exposed online," Identity Finder notes at the end of its report . Just a little something to chew on.

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