Stratfor email trove starts leaking to web

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Up to five million alleged messages under microscope.

WikiLeaks has revealed plans to publish up to five million emails allegedly from the hacked security intelligence firm Stratfor.

The leak has been denounced by Strafor in a statement where it said it would not confirm or deny the accuracy of any leaked material, and that it would "not be silenced".

WikiLeaks released the first batch earlier today with the promise of a "gradual release" once the source material had been "journalistic[ally] evaluated".

The organisation employed a similar strategy with its release of diplomatic cables last year.

It was unclear how WikiLeaks had procured the vast email trove.

However, Stratfor was hacked in December by members of the AntiSec movement, exposing personal data of customers such as credit card numbers.

Hackers at the time also claimed to be in possession of a trove of emails, which was confirmed in January by Stratfor's founder and CEO George Friedman.

"Obviously, we were not happy to see our emails taken," Friedman said in a blog post at the time.

"God knows what a hundred employees writing endless emails might say that is embarrassing, stupid or subject to misinterpretation."

In a statement, WikiLeaks alleged the trove of emails would show Stratfor's "web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods".

About 4000 emails are also said to reference WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange.

"Deplorable, illegal"

Stratfor issued a statement to PR Newswire condemning the "deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach" of its privacy.

It also threw a grenade aimed at WikiLeaks and the internet community to take the content of the alleged emails with a grain of salt.

"Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic," Stratfor said.

"We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them.

"Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimised twice by submitting to questioning about them."

Stratfor said the emails were "private property" and should be read as such.

"Like all private emails, they were written casually, with no expectation anyone other than the sender and recipient would ever see them," the company said.

Stratfor branded the leak as a "direct attack" and issued a blunt warning to critics.

"This is another attempt to silence and intimidate the company, and one we reject," the company said.

"Under the continued leadership of founder and Chief Executive Officer George Friedman, Stratfor will not be silenced and will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely upon."

WikiLeaks protection

One string of emails focuses on the suggestion of a Stratfor analyst to develop an offering that "focuses on preventing one's own employees from leaking sensitive information".

The analyst said a news article suggested there were "a large number of deep pocket corporations were looking into leak-focused network security after [the] Wikileak [sic] episodes".

"I was wondering if it was possible for us to get some of that "leak-focused" gravy train," the analyst wrote.

"This is an obvious fear sale, so that's a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don't, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance..."

The same analyst comes back into the string again after several replies: "I think that we would have a possible in there since that is not just about IT. But I don't really know what I am talking about." The string apparently goes no further.

Friedman said in January that the emails may reveal that Strafor has "sources around the world" and "relationships with people in the U.S. and other governments".

"What will not appear is classified intelligence from corporations or governments," he said.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


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