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Anti-piracy lawyers' email database leaked after hack

Backup torrented

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Hackers have uploaded a leaked database of emails from anti-piracy law firm ACS:Law onto P2P networks and websites.

ACS:Law was among a handful of entertainment industry-affiliated organisations to endure denial of service attacks by the denizens of 4Chan last week. A loose-knit collective of members of the notorious message board also hit the MPAA, RIAA and BPI using online attack tools, taking the MPAA and RIAA offline in the process.

Other targets of Operation: Payback is a bitch included solicitors ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons. During attempts to re-establish ACS:Law's website it seems a compressed copy of what seems to be at least part of the firm's email database, contained in site backups, was exposed online. Hackers extracted this webmail file and made it available via torrent trackers and posted it on a limited number of websites over the weekend.

“Their site came back online [after the DDoS attack] – and on their front page was accidentally a backup file of the whole website (default directory listing, their site was empty), including emails and passwords,” a leader of the attacking group told TorrentFreak.

Information contained in the email database reportedly includes personal details of the targets of the law firm's threatening letters and business correspondence with ACS:Law's partners. These email nuggets are buried among spam and office admin exchanges in a 350MB file. Slyck reports that the file contains around a month of webmails belonging to solicitor Andrew Crossley, head of ACS:Law.

UK-based ACS:Law has enraged the more freewheeling sections of the internet by threatening lawsuits against alleged P2P copyright infringers unless they agree to an out-of-court settlement, typically of £500. The files involved are often video games or pornographic flicks, with copyrights held by German monitoring firm Digiprotect. ACS:Law is under investigation over its tactics by the Solicitor's Regulatory Authority, with a tribunal expected next year.

Privacy International said on Monday that it plans to sue ACS:Law for violating the privacy of internet users over the security breach. It reckons the names and personal details of targets of ACS:law's legal nastygrams could become the target of scams or identity theft as a result of the email leak. The privacy activists are also briefing the Information Commissioner's Office on the breach. ®

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