FBI warns of government hacks by Anonymous

FBI warns of government hacks by Anonymous

BOSTON/SAN FRANCISCO - Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed US government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week.

The hackers exploited a flaw in Adobe Systems Inc's software to launch a rash of electronic break-ins that began last December, then left "back doors" to return to many of the machines as recently as last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a memo seen by Reuters.

The memo, distributed on Thursday, described the attacks as "a widespread problem that should be addressed." It said the breach affected the US Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many more agencies.

Investigators are still gathering information on the scope of the cyber campaign, which the authorities believe is continuing. The FBI document tells system administrators what to look for to determine if their systems are compromised.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

According to an internal email from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz' chief of staff, Kevin Knobloch, the stolen data included personal information on at least 104,000 employees, contractors, family members and others associated with the Department of Energy, along with information on almost 2,0000 bank accounts.

The email, dated October 11, said officials were "very concerned" that loss of the banking information could lead to thieving attempts.

Officials said the hacking was linked to the case of Lauri Love, a British resident indicted on October 28 for allegedly hacking into computers at the Department of Energy, Army, Department of Health and Human Services, the US Sentencing Commission and elsewhere.

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