Political analysis company faces hacking accusations

AddThis

Political analysis company Stratfor has recently come under fire for allegedly being part of a plan to shut down local activist groups Occupy Austin and Deep Green Resistance Austin.

An unknown hacker group infiltrated Stratfor’s systems in December and obtained a large amount of confidential information, such as credit card numbers and company emails, and eliminated data on four Stratfor servers. Alleged emails between Stratfor employees and the Texas Department of Public Safety have caused debate regarding validity of the emails and whether online spying is taking place. In the messages, DPS officers instructed Stratfor to keep a close eye on Occupy Austin and Deep Green Resistance Austin.

In a statement released earlier this month, Stratfor CEO George Friedman said he did not know who the hackers were — many have claimed them to be members of the Internet activist group Anonymous – but that they allegedly hacked to expose corporate corruption.

Stratfor provides worldwide geopolitical analysis to subscribers around the world using traditional news outlets, open source monitoring of information and surveys from human sources.

Friedman said he expected the hackers to be disappointed with what they found.

“Of course we have relationships with people in the U.S. and other governments and obviously we know people in corporations, and that will be discovered in the emails,” Friedman said. “But that’s our job. We are what we said we were — an organization that generates its revenues through geopolitical analysis.”

In the emails, DPS officials sent Stratfor information on both activists movements and asked the company to gain understanding on how both groups operate. Stratfor employees reportedly suspected an alliance between Occupy Austin and Deep Green Resistance and thought it could be a threat.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said DPS cannot verify the authenticity of the information contained in the emails.

Occupy Austin member Kit O’Connell said the Stratfor emails reaffirmed the group’s concern about infiltrators within Occupy Austin. O’Connell said the dates on the emails coincided with the arrests of many Occupy Austin members the night of Halloween for civil disobedience. On Halloween, one person left the group and accused specific members of breaking the law, O’Connell said.

O’Connell said although Occupy Austin group members have suspected other members of being infiltrators, there is no definite way to tell and no direct accusations have been made.

“Our movement is based around transparency and we do almost everything out in the open, although we are concerned of people spying,” O’Connell said. “It’s obvious some people in intelligence don’t know what to make of us and are afraid of us.”

He also said while many of Occupy Austin’s members are a part of Deep Green Resistance Austin, there is no formal alliance between the groups. There has been some talk about occupying the Stratfor building but nothing is set in stone, O’Connell said.

Stratfor officials have said they cannot comment on the emails at the moment but that measures are being taken to make sure something like this does not happen again.