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Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond given 10 year sentence

Steve Ragan | Nov. 18, 2013
AntiSec activist to serve 10 years in federal prison for his attack on geopolitical intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting Inc.

Jeremy Hammond, the man responsible for the 2011 attack on Strategic Forecasting Inc., better known as Stratfor, pled guilty to his role in the attack and was sentenced on Friday to serve 10 years in federal prison. However, Hammond's supporters maintain that his sentencing, indeed the case itself, was unbalanced and rife with problems from the beginning.

In 2011, the AntiSec movement was resurrected in name. Those supporting AntiSec used its name to target governments, law enforcement, and the private businesses that associated with them. One such business was Strategic Forecasting Inc., better known as Stratfor, a firm in Austin, Texas that provides "geopolitical intelligence" to individuals and organizations across the globe. Earlier this past May, Jeremy Hammond admitted that he was responsible for the Stratfor incident as part of a plea agreement reached with the U.S. attorney's office.

In December of 2011, Hammond -- encouraged by fellow-AntiSec supporter Hector Xavier Monsegur (a.k.a. Sabu), who was a cooperating witness for the FBI at the time -- breached Stratfor's servers, by exploiting a vulnerability in the Plesk management system used to support the company's website.

Once access was granted, Hammond downloaded various archives containing poorly protected email addresses and passwords, and a backup copy of Stratfor's corporate email. Prior to Hammond's involvement, another person compromised Stratfor's credit card processing, and stole some 60,000 records. The breach was made public by AntiSec on December 24 of that year.

Hammond admitted that he shared the stolen Stratfor emails (amounting to some 5 million messages) with Wikileaks. However, in addition to the communications shared by Hammond, a list of 860,100 email addresses and passwords were leaked to the public. According to court filings, the 60,000 credit card records that were taken during the incident were used to run up "at least $700,000 worth of unauthorized charges," from December 6, 2011, until early February 2012.

As part of his plea, Hammond admitted to his role in the Stratfor incident in exchange for a reduced possible sentence from 12.5 to 15.5 years, to a single charge that carries a maximum of 10 years. Supporters for Hammond had encouraged the judge to be lenient, but instead U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska followed the recommendations of the prosecutors and sentenced him to the maximum term.

After he was fingered by FBI's witness (Monsegur), Hammond's supporters questioned the role the "snitch" played in the case, calling for investigations into the government's actions. In statements made by Hammond, which the court attempted to have redacted, but only after the information had leaked, Monsegur (allegedly on the FBI's behalf) encouraged Hammond to target various organizations and governments as part of the AntiSec movement.


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