A recent article published by NewsOK.com reports that “an informant” working for the FBI in 2012 coordinated a “campaign of hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including some operated by the governments of Iran, Syria, Brazil and Pakistan.” The article indicates that (according to documents and interviews with people involved in the attacks) the “informant” was responsible for directing “at least one hacker to extract vast amounts of data from the government servers of a number of countries and upload it to a server monitored by the FBI.”
The data which was extracted by the attackers while “exploiting a vulnerability in a popular web hosting software“, included “bank records to login information“, according to the report. Until recently, this event had been a massive secret – within “closed sessions of a federal court in New York“, according to the report. The article indicated that the now released court documents do not confirm if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered the attacks “directly“, but according to this report, it is suggested that the U.S. government may have “used hackers to gather intelligence overseas even as investigators were trying to dismantle hacking groups like Anonymous and send computer activists away for lengthy prison terms.”
The report states that Hector Xavier Monsegur, “a prominent hacker” within the hacker group Anonymous working under the Internet alias “Sabu“, coordinated these attacks.
Monsegur had orchestrated “a string of attacks on high-profile targets including PayPal and MasterCard“, according to the article, and by early 2012 the FBI had arrested him and “spent months working to help the bureau identify other members of Anonymous.” The article continues to state that the details of this “campaign” could be instrumental in offering continuing “evidence that the U.S. government has exploited major flaws in Internet security – so called “zero-day” vulnerabilities like the recent Heartbleed bug – for intelligence purposes.”
Read more about these events in the full article and hear comments form those involved detailing how the vulnerabilities were used to their advantage.