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Stratfor settles class-action over Anon megahack with freebies

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Stratfor has agreed to forgo $1.75m in income to settle a class action lawsuit arising from a high-profile hack by hacktivist group Anonymous against the global intelligence firm's systems last December.

Anonymous-affiliated hackers broke into Stratfor's systems in the run-up to Christmas last year before publishing hundreds of thousands of email addresses belonging to subscribers along with an estimated 4,000 customer credit records. Various Anons boasted of plans to use the stolen credit card data to make donations to charities, including the Red Cross. Any such transaction would have more than likely been identified and reversed, however.

Stratfor's website was also thrashed during the attack, which allowed hackers to extract confidential internal emails, which soon found their way onto WikiLeaks.

Chief among several mistakes that left Stratfor wide open to attack was a failure to encrypt the credit card files that hacktivists stole and later dumped online. David Sterling of Sterling & Sterling, a New York-area insurance broker and Stratfor subscriber, filed a class-action lawsuit over the breach.

Stratfor has offered to settle the suit by offering each claimant free access to its service for a month, something that would normally cost $29, as well an eBook published by Stratfor called The Blue Book, priced at $12.99. Supplying these goods and services at no charge will leave Stratfor an estimated $1.75m out of pocket, Reuters reports. The private intelligence firm also agreed to pay $400,000 in legal fees.

US District Judge Denis Hurley gave his preliminary stamp of approval to the settlement earlier this month. A final hearing is set for 28 September.

Jeremy Hammond, 27, of Chicago, Illinois, was charged in March with access device fraud and hacking offences in relation to to the Stratfor hack. He is alleged to be the infamous Anonymous figure "Anarchaos".

Hammond's arrest took place with the assistance of LulzSec suspect turned FBI informant, Hector Xavier 'Sabu' Monsegur, officials said. Court documents reveal that Monsegur offered an FBI-supplied server as a repository for 20GB of data extracted from Stratfor, an offer that was accepted. ®

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