UPDATE: The Federal Reserve admitted on Wednesday that hackers did gain access to computers used in communication with local banks after the Anonymous hacker collective released the personal information of over 4,000 US bank executives earlier this week.
“The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product,” A Federal Reserve spokesman said in a statement.
“The exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve System,” the spokesman said.
Citing federal law enforcement officials, ABC news stated that the FBI has opened an investigation into the incident.
The Federal Reserve hack was part of an Anonymous campaign, OpLastResort.
“The Fed calls our hack claims 'overstated', like their qualification for an unregulated and opaque role in determining US economic policy,” said Twitter account @OpLastResort, the account used by the organization for this particular operation.
Anonymous released the security credentials for over 4,000 US bank executives on Monday, posting their user account information, passwords and personal information online as part of OpLastResort.
OpLastResort is an Anonymous operation calling for sweeping reforms of the US criminal justice system.
Anonymous claimed that the bank executives' information was taken from networks associated with the US Federal Reserve.
The dox – or release of personal information online – was posted as a spreadsheet on a domain belonging to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information center: http://acjic.alabama.gov. To publish the spreadsheet, the hackers gained access to the domain and added “oops we did it again” to the URL.
Banks listed in the dox included a large number of small community banks. Lacking the security infrastructure of larger national banks, local banks are more vulnerable to security breaches and cyberattacks.
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“Now we have your attention America: Anonymous's Superbowl Commercial 4k banker d0x via the FED,” tweeted the OpLastResort account, including the URL containing the spreadsheet.
The URL and spreadsheet have since been removed from the domain but the spreadsheet is still available online.
ZDnet noted one Reddit user called several of the phone numbers contained in the spreadsheet.
“OK, I called a few of them. What must be so problematic for the Federal Reserve is not the information so much as this file was stolen from their computers at all. The ramifications of that kind of loss of control is severe,” the user said.
The Huffington Post contacted the Federal Reserve concerning a potential security breach but their spokesman declined to comment on Anonymous’ claims and did not confirm whether a statement on the incident was forthcoming.
OpLastResort was launched following the suicide of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz last month. Swartz was indicted for wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer by a federal grand jury in 2011 after he allegedly downloaded large amounts of data from the JSTOR journal database.
Prosecutors claimed Swartz acted with the intention of sharing the vast number of documents on peer-to-peer sharing websites.
Anonymous, other web freedom activists and Swartz's family believe that the aggressiveness with which Swartz was prosecuted contributed to his suicide.
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Another cause the Anons behind OpLastResort are pushing is to ensure that Jeremy Hammond’s prosecution and incarceration is carried out fairly and impartially. Hammond was arrested in March of 2012 in connection with the organization's hack against the global intelligence firm Stratfor.
Hammond was denied bail and remains in prison. Anonymous claims he was moved into solitary confinement recently in retaliation for the hacker collective's cyberattacks against the US Department of Justice.
Members of the collective involved with OpLastResort have stated that Hammond's move to solitary confinement is a "dangerous escalation in the conflict".