‘Anonymous’ Hackers Claim They Hit Web Hosting Company Popular With Proud Boys
By Sean Lyngaas, CNN
Hacking collective Anonymous claimed last week that it stole and disclosed tons of data held by Epik, a web hosting company popular with far-right organizations like the Proud Boys.
The more than 150 gigabytes of data swept away highlights years of online activity by far-right groups, including those who tried to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. While researchers still sift through the data, Epik has historically provided web hosting services to a range of conspiracy theorists and conservative media networks like Speaking and Gab.
The breach also undermines Epik’s commitment to customers that it can protect their anonymity, no matter what dangerous conspiracy theories they spread online. For this reason, experts have told CNN that the hack could impact the way far-right groups organize and try to protect themselves online.
“A breach like this will force some of these players to find security providers outside of North America, in Europe, to possibly step up their security game,” anthropology professor Gabriella Coleman told CNN. at Harvard University. Coleman said the data dump “confirmed many details of the far-right ecosystem.”
Emily Crose, a cybersecurity analyst who studies online extremism, said the breach “will be another factor causing paranoia among far-right online communities.” Crose said these groups already feel under surveillance, given their violent attempts to cancel the 2020 presidential election.
Emma Best, co-founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit that has itself published hacktivist data, said researchers could look into the Epik leaks for months to find clues about the way different far right people and organizations are linked.
Epik said in a statement last week he had “deployed multiple cybersecurity teams” to remedy the breach. The Seattle-area-based company has tried to assure customers that “our top priority will always be your security and privacy.”
Troy Hunt, an Australian cybersecurity consultant, said many people who are not Epik customers also saw their data compromised during the hack. That’s because Epik has apparently collected third-party data that is publicly available on the internet, according to Hunt.
Hunt, which operates a service that notifies people if their email addresses have been exposed in data breaches, told CNN that about 100,000 of its subscribers were affected by the Epik hack.
âIt’s a very messy and messy situation,â Hunt said. “Among all of this, there are a whole bunch of people” who still have not been notified that their information has been compromised, he added.
Epik did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Tuesday night.
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