Epic hack: ‘Anonymous’ claims to meet popular website hosting company at Proud Boys

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The 150 gigabytes of data that were swept away in the breach shed light on years of online activity by far-right groups, including those who tried to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. While researchers are still sifting through the data, in the past Epik has provided web hosting services to a number of conspiracy theorists and to conservative media networks such as Parler and Gab.

The breach also undermines Epik’s promise to customers to maintain their anonymity no matter what dangerous conspiracy theories they spread online. Because of this, experts told CNN that the hack could have an impact on how far right groups organize and try to protect themselves online.

“A breach like this will force some of these actors to find security vendors outside of North America, in Europe, to potentially increase their security game,” Gabriella Coleman, professor of anthropology at Harvard University, told CNN. Coleman said the data dump “confirms many details of the far-right ecosystem”.

Emily Crose, a cybersecurity analyst investigating online extremism, said the violation “will be another factor causing paranoia among online right-wing communities.” Crose said these groups already feel under surveillance in the face of their violent attempts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.

Emma Best, co-founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets, a nonprofit that has published hacktivist data itself, said researchers could spend months searching through the epic leaks for clues about how different people and far-right organizations are connected.

In a statement to CNN Tuesday night, Epik said the information Anonymous released contained data on 15 million people that were already public.

“Epik has been a trusted resource for many years and security and privacy will always be our top priority,” the company said.

Epik said in a statement last week that it “deployed multiple cyber security teams” to fix the breach. The Seattle-based company sought to reassure customers that “our security and privacy will always be our top priority”.

Troy Hunt, an Australian cybersecurity advisor, said that numerous people who are not Epik customers had their data compromised by the hack. That’s because, according to Hunt, Epik has apparently collected third-party data that is publicly available on the internet.

Hunt, who runs a service that notifies people when their email addresses have been exposed in the event of a data breach, told CNN that around 100,000 of its subscribers were affected by the epic hack.

“It’s a very lewd, chaotic situation,” said Hunt. “Beneath all of this, there are quite a few people,” he added, who have still not been informed that their information has been compromised.

This story has been updated with a statement from Epik.



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