Two days after Anonymous bragged about its latest government website breach and data dump, the United States Federal Reserve admitted that it had been hacked and robbed. "The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Fed spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday night. "Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system."
The Fed stopped short of pointing any fingers at possible hackers, but all roads lead to Anonymous on this one. Not only did they tweet about successfully stealing information on 4,000 bank executives, they published a spreadsheet full of the data on the web, everything from the bankers' login credentials to the cell phone numbers of their personal contacts. The hack happened around the time of the Super Bowl as part of Anonymous's OpLastResort, a new effort to go after government websites following the death of Aaron Swartz who faced federal prosecution for downloading academic articles from JSTOR without permission. The page that they created on government servers hosting the spreadsheet has since been taken down, but the Fed has felt the proverbial glove-slap from Anonymous, always one to duel with the powers that be.
This hack isn't necessarily noteworthy for what was stolen, though. It's what could've been stolen that has the folks watching over the servers in the Federal Reserve's basement working overtime. Obviously, the Fed deals with money, a lot of money. One of its services, Fedline, processes bank transactions from some 9,000 financial institutions across the country and sees trillions of dollars worth of funds transferred through its channels on an annual basis. Although the security measures on this network are surely different than the one that Anonymous breached, Ben Bernanke can't be thrilled about a bunch of hacktivists breaking into his house.
Does it really matter, though? The government knows that it needs beef up its cyber security, and Anonymous just gave them a handy little reminder to hustle on that task. Like all the other Anonymous hacks, these things are just as much about the spectacle as it is the actual damage done.