If stolen data fails to copy over, is there really a data breach?
That's what supporters of the hacktivist movement Anonymous were trying to decide today (May 22) after a purported 1.7 gigabytes of data supposedly stolen from the U.S. Department of Justice failed to fully download from BitTorrent servers.
"Today we are releasing 1.7GB of data that used to belong to the United States Bureau [sic] of Justice, until now," proclaimed an Anonymous manifesto posted on YouTube and the code-sharing site Pastebin. "Within the booty you may find lots of shiny things such as internal emails, and the entire database dump."
SecurityNewsDaily attempted to download the huge file, but it initially stalled at 94 percent completion, a number reported by other websites as well.
"The reason everyone is stuck at 94% is because zeekill, a person we have heard of before, is attacking our seedboxes," said @planethacks, an Anonymous-affiliated Twitter feed.
Seedboxes in BitTorrent are the initial uploading computers on the Internet. As a BitTorrent download proceeds, each individual downloading computer begins to share the data it has already downloaded, resulting in a widely distributed array of sources for the same file.
The writer of @planethacks promised that the file transfer would be restarted successfully.
After some time, SecurityNewsDaily was able to complete the download. However, we were only able to extract part of the archive, as our Zip extractor choked three times before finishing the job.
So what was in the archive? Not much of any interest that we could see. It was mostly files having to do with the operation of a website powered by Adobe's ColdFusion database-scripting software, including manuals for ColdFusion itself.
There did appear to be some email spools, but without the proper software to open them, we couldn't see what they contained.
As for why the data was stolen, the reasons were predictably vague.
"We are releasing data to spread information, to allow the people to be heard and to know the corruption in their government," said the Anonymous YouTube video. "We are releasing it to end the corruption that exists, and truly make those who are being oppressed free."
Several news sources said the data actually came from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a branch of the Department of Justice that collects, publishes and analyzes crime data from the United States. The Bureau of Justice Statistics website was offline as of noon ET today (May 22).
"The department is looking into the unauthorized access of a website server operated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that contained data from their public website," a Department of Justice spokesman told ZDNet.