A campaign using the name and much of the iconography of activist group Anonymous has released data it hopes will embarrass the Australian Government into backing away from even considering data retention laws.
Data has been posted to a number of file sharing sites and appears to have been released at around 2:00AM Sunday AEST.
The Register has visited three of the sites and the data concerned is far from explosive as it lists the addresses of government agencies and foreign embassies in Australia. Some lines of data reveal the first names of individuals. Some record hobbies. A field for mobile phone numbers and phone numbers that will reach individuals in the evening is also present in many records.
The group has described the attack and its motives in a blog post and video in which the group justifies the release by describing it as a “proof of concept attack” that used “the very same methods your government uses on the Australian population.” Those methods, Anonymous or those using that name assert, could mean any data held by the Australian Government could be exposed in similar ways, to the detriment of individuals' liberty and privacy.
The attack is said to have exploited a flaw in an un-patched and forgotten AAPT ColdFusion server hosted at a third party, Melbourne IT. How that represents a method Australia's government uses is not explained.
The speech accompanying the video diverges from the written text, and at around 2:25 in the video issues a threat of further action:
Do not underestimate what a nation settled by convicts can do. You must keep the people happy. Do that and there is no drama. Otherwise, you'd better expect us.
The soundtrack to the video is spoken in a mock Australian accent that even some anons, in a chat room the Anonymous' Op_Australia twitter feed has promoted as a reliable source of information on its antipodean activities, found risible.
The decision to claim the video is spoken by a member of the Australian public is also noteworthy, as some people in the chat room appear not to reside in Australia. One has told The Reg he or she resides in France. Others keep hours that indicate they either have very unusual sleeping patterns or reside in time zones beyond Australia.
Chat in the room also indicated the group had difficulty preparing the data for release, as the size of the stolen data - 40 gigabytes and several hundred database tables – presented technical challenges. Banter also seemed to indicate that different opinions about what to release were being debated among activists. Some argued that AAPT's confirmation of data loss achieved the group's aims and that the eventual release therefore did not need to make additional revelations.
The eventual decision preserved some column headers, but the majority of cells are replaced with the word “NULL”.
On Saturday the blog post above was also, for a time, removed from the AnonPR.net site. Chat in the group also suggested activists were attacking the web site of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. ®