NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, December 26, 2011

About Anonymous, Donations and Charities Posted by Mikko @ 08:03 GMT

Members of the Anonymous collective announced during Christmas that they had broken into stratfor.com.

STRATFOR is an organization that gathers open source intelligence for forecasting purposes. Their publications are sold via stratfor.com. As far as we can tell, Anonymous gained access to a subscriber list stored on stratfor.com, and that list contained unencrypted credit card data.

Anonymous has now published three lists of credit card details belonging to people who have subscribed to STRATFOR reports. The lists contained 3956, 13191 and 30726 card details, respectively. These card details belong to subscribers all over the world.


After the credit card leaks, various members of Anonymous have published screenshots where these credit cards have been used to make sizable donations to various charities. The charities have included Red Cross, CARE, Save The Children and the African Child Foundation.



At the first glance, actions like this look a bit like the actions of Robin Hood — steal from the rich, give to the poor.

But unfortunately, in this case the poor won't get a dime.

These anonymous donations will never reach the ones in need. And in fact, these actions will just end up hurting the charities, not helping them.

When credit card owners see unauthorized charges on their cards, they report them to their bank or credit card company. Credit card companies will do a chargeback to the charities, which will have to return the money. In some cases, charities could be hit with with penalties. At the very least, they will lose time and money in handling the chargebacks.

Merry Christmas.