Anonymous has latched onto yet another new target with the release of potentially sensitive data from controversial agricultural giant Monsanto.
The notorious hacktivist collective released the names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of more than 2,500 Monsanto employees and affiliates, as part of an action its has unimaginatively dubbed #OpMonsanto. The group claimed to have discovered vulnerabilities that allowed it to take down Monsanto mail servers during its extraction of the potentially sensitive data.
The motives for the attack remain unclear, perhaps even to Anonymous, which said it plans to create a wiki for sharing and organising the stolen data, net security firm Sophos reports.
In related news, Anonymous said it planned to attack oil firms and banks supporting the controversial extraction of oil from sand in Alberta, Canada. Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands, Imperial Oil, and the Royal Bank of Scotland have been put on notice that they are likely to be targeted in Anonymous' latest operation, dubbed Project Tarmageddon.
Anonymous began with attacks on the Church of Scientology in early 2008 before it made headline news last year with attacks on financial service firms that blocked donation to WikiLeaks following the release of controversial US diplomatic cables. Another long-running campaign has targeted entertainment industry firms that hassled file sharers or console modders, most notably Sony.
The group has also branched into political attacks on the web infrastructure of repressive countries (Tunisia, Egypt and Syria), police and government agencies in countries that have arrested its members (Spain, Turkey), government security contractors (Booz Allen Hamilton, HBGary) and big business, as part of Operation AntiSec. It has also launched a campaign against police in Orlando, in protest over the arrest of people giving food to the homeless, among other actions.
Much of this has involved either distributed denial of service attacks against targeted organisations or the extraction and subsequent release of sensitive information. Few in the rag-tag group seem much bothered by the possible collateral damage caused by the release of personnel data on serving soldiers, gamers or others that its various operations have spewed onto the net. ®