Strategic Forecasting, the security think tank that took down its Web site after it was hacked by Anonymous over the Christmas weekend, will not relaunch the site for at least a week, as the firm recovers from the theft of thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients.
George Friedman, chief executive and founder of the Austin, Texas-based firm, said Wednesday on the company's Facebook page that the delay was to provide time to finish a "thorough review and adjustment" of the site. "We expect this to take approximately a week, but it might take longer – please bear with us as we recover from this unfortunate event," he wrote.
Friedman also said that Strategic Forecasting, more commonly known as Stratfor, would pay for one year of identity and fraud protection for clients affected by the break in. Austin-based CSID will provide the coverage.
During the site's overhaul, Stratfor planned to e-mail its geopolitical analysis to clients, which include the U.S. Defense Department, law enforcement agencies, major security contractors and technology companies, such as Apple and Microsoft. Friedman apologized again for the security breach. "To say we wish this hadn't happened is a massive understatement."
Stratfor, which is working with law enforcement officials to find the hackers, has refused to discuss how the break in occurred. Hacker collective Anonymous claims the information taken was unencrypted, which would be an embarrassment for Stratfor, if true. The hackers say 17,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses were stolen and posted on the Web. Anonymous also claimed to have taken 2.7 million e-mails, which it promised to release in the future.
The Stratfor hack is part of what Anonymous says is a weeklong campaign, called LulzXmas, to wreak "utter havoc on global systems, militaries and governments." In releasing a statement announcing the Stratfor break in, Anonymous called for the release of Bradley Manning, the disaffected Army intelligence analyst accused of providing reams of classified information to whistleblower site WikiLeaks. Arrested in May 2010, a decision on whether Manning will face a court-martial is pending.
Anonymous is not believed to be a single group of hackers, but a loose alliance of many groups. The organization has taken credit for many hacks, including some retaliatory attacks on companies Anonymous deemed as enemies of WikiLeaks. In August, Anonymous took credit for defacing the Syrian Ministry of Defense Web site in retaliation for the government crackdown on protesters.