Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (BART) has been in the midst of a situation against the online hacking collective, Anonymous, over denied cell phone service to consumers.
BART officials acknowledged over the weekend that hackers compromised data on the myBART.org server accessing information on 2,400 BART members. The information included names, email addresses, and passwords as well as some personal addresses. In response, BART shut down the website and worked with authorities to figure out the perpetrators. The website is back up but nothing has come out in regards of who hacked it.
The conflict began when there was uproar after BART shut down wireless networks in some stations last week to thwart a protest. Demonstrators were looking to organize a protest over a BART police shooting of an alleged knife-wielding passenger last month. BART said they shut down the cell phone service for safety reasons.
On Monday night, protestors came out to various BART stations to demonstrate against the organization. BART, deciding to not escalate the decision, decided to allow cell phone service for those protests.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union decried the original move and helped force BART to back off on Monday. The anti-BART sentiment built on the web led to the the myBART.org website being hacked.
Taking responsibility for the hack was the hacking collective Anonymous, which posted a release on their site http://anonnews.org explaining their actions. Anonymous said they disagreed with BART police's shooting incident and BART shutting down the protestors' cell phone service. The group also said BART set up a shoddy website that was easy to hack, proving it doesn't care about its customers.
Anonymous has practically lived on the front page for the past year as the group has been responsible for multiple globally known hacks. There were the hacks against various Middle Eastern governments, the hacks against Sony and the attacks against the financial institutions that wrong Wikileaks. Seemingly wherever there has been a major newsworthy hack, Anonymous has been there.
Despite arrests in various countries of people claiming to be members of Anonymous, the group hasn't stopped. Its decentralized nature makes it hard to stop says Joseph Steinberg, chief executive of Green Armor Solutions. Steinberg has two decades in IT experience and has helped small businesses and Fortune 500 companies from being hacked.
"While the true nature of 'Anonymous' remains unknown, they are geographically dispersed enough so that any crackdown is unlikely to be successful at catching 100 percent of the members, and that those arrested can easily be replace," Steinberg said.
The group's nebulous nature works to its advantage and makes them dangerous Steinberg says. Any old person can claim to be a member of Anonymous, even if they don't share the same views and opinions as the majority of the group.
"The group might claim to be one voice, but it's not," he said. "I'm sure there are people who are demonstrating about the cell phone service cut off don't support hacking."
Steinberg says hacking is not an effective solution when it comes to BART Anonymous ordeal. He says it should be left up to authorities to determine whether or not BART acted properly. Anonymous' actions, he says, are more destructive than anything else.
"The people hurt in the BART ordeal are probably not the folks Anonymous wanted to go after. They are posting people's passwords, which a lot of people use for multiple sites, and some people whose information was leaked might even be protesting the cell phone service cut off."