Operation PIAB Breaches Anti-Fileshare Lawfirm

The fallout from “Operation: Payback is a Bitch” continues, although it is not clear yet who exactly is at fault in this case. During ongoing attacks from the Low Orbit Ion Cannon DDoS tool a lawfirm infamous for prosecuting file sharers has experienced a breach and will be sued itself for accidentally sharing sensitive information.

V3 says the law firm is facing legal action over data breach

The ACS-Law web site was hit by a series of DDoS attacks over the weekend carried out by web group Anonymous as part of a wide-ranging attack on pro-copyright organisations known as Operation Payback.

The breach of ACS-Law’s systems reportedly resulted in the release of a file containing 365MB of emails containing credit card information on suspected offenders, as well as emails written by the firm’s boss Andrew Crossley.

Rights group Privacy International has reported the firm to the ICO, as the data breach was not technically caused by the hack, but by a failure to put appropriate technical safeguards in place.

The good news is ACS:Law is well experienced in notifying people. They apparently sent 10,000 letters in just the first two weeks of January 2010. In that case they were said to be trying to blackmail people by telling them to pay or be sued for sharing information illegally. Now they just have to turn it around a little and say they were sharing information illegally so they are being sued and will pay people.

More than the privacy of suspected offender information is at stake. The Inquirer shows why some of the email exposed in the breach, now available on the Pirate Bay, will probably further damage the law firm’s already controversial business model:

Crossley bragged about how much money he has obtained from penning his emails to people. He wrote, “Spent much of the weekend looking for a new car. Finances are much better so can put £20-30k down. May go for a Lambo or Ferrari. I am so predictable!” Later emails reveal that he bought a Jeep Compass 2.4CVT.

In a letter to NG3Sys, which did the outfit’s Internet monitoring, he told it that it would receive on average about £1,000 per 150 letters sent.


Other emails include the approach used to screw people out of cash when they are clearly not liable for copyright infringement.

Perhaps most interesting is how attackers also try to capitalize on search results to infect more computers, documented by Panda Labs.

I will cover this next month along with other high-profile breaches in my RSA 2010 Europe presentation on the Top Ten Breaches.

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