Nightly News | December 26, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to a massive security breach at a security firm whose laundry list of big-name clients includes Apple and the US military . The hacking group known as Anonymous says it's stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to the firm's clients, but instead of going on a buying binge, you might be surprised by what they've apparently done. We get the details from our justice correspondent Pete Williams .
PETE WILLIAMS reporting: The company called Stratfor based in Austin , Texas , helps clients shield themselves from risk. Tonight it's scrambling to protect itself. Its website now contains only a brief corporate understatement that it's, quote, undergoing maintenance. Hackers from the group Anonymous claim they stole thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information from the company and used it to make donations to charity. Some were corporate and government clients, but individual subscribers to Stratfor 's service were also among the victims, including this former employee of the Texas Department of Banking .
Mr. ALLEN BARR (Hacking Victim): In this instance they're taking it from individuals who take -- you know, they could have ruined our Christmas . They could have ruined our lives.
WILLIAMS: He says the hackers tried to steal $700 from his account, giving 200 of it as a donation to the Red Cross . In a widely circulated statement, the group says there's, quote, "plenty more havoc in store for the rest of the week" and calls for the release of Army Private Bradley Manning , accused of passing on thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks , the website that the hacker group Anonymous has sought to aid in the past.
Mr. EVAN KOHLMANN (NBC Terrorism Analyst): I think the lesson here is for companies that do have this kind of sensitive information, now is the time to secure it. It's no longer enough to simply say, 'Well, it might not happen.'
WILLIAMS: Tonight Stratfor says it's putting systems in place to prevent something like this from happening again. The hackers say the company should have stored the credit card numbers in encrypted files in the first place . Pete Williams , NBC News, Washington.