The US Federal Reserve has admitted that its systems were hacked during Sunday's Super Bowl, a breach that led to the leaking of personal data on hundreds of US banking executives.
The breach allowed hacktivist ragtag collective Anonymous to post the names, email addresses, mobile phone numbers and login credentials (password hashes and IDs) of what it said were 4,000 senior US banking executives. The attack and subsequent leak was carried out as part of an ongoing campaign, dubbed Operation Last Resort, calling for reform of the justice system following the suicide of RSS and Reddit co-creator and activist Aaron Swartz. Swartz had been the target of a controversially aggressive federal cybercrime prosecution after he broke into MIT servers in an effort to liberate academic papers onto the internet.
The leaked file was uploaded to the hacked portion of a website of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (acjic.alabama.gov) and a Chinese site, rather than Pastebin. The Federal Reserve admits the leaked data is genuine and came from its systems, the while playing down the significance of the breach.
"The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday. "Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system."
Reuters obtained a memo from the Fed to members of its Emergency Communication System (ECS) warning that "mailing address, business phone, mobile phone, business email, and fax numbers had been published," but playing down the significance of the breach.
"Some registrants also included optional information consisting of home phone and personal email. Despite claims to the contrary, passwords were not compromised," the organisation said.
Anonymous’ OpLastResort previously featured attacks on the US Sentencing Commission and the Eastern District of Michigan United States Probation Office website. The Sentencing Commission hack involved embedding a game of Asteroids as an Easter Egg in the site, which is yet to return to normal operation more than a week after the initial assault. ®
The headline event from Sunday's Super Bowl at the New Orleans Superdome was of course the extended power outage. Some reports suggest that the tripping of an electrical breaker left the the indoor sports arena relying on emergency lighting, suspending play for 34 minutes. The whole incident may, of course, have been designed to allow extra time for advertisers. However, Beyonce's supposed use of an "Illuminati" symbol (chillingly captured here) during her half time show is bound to excite a few conspiracy theorists towards thinking darker forces were at work.