Supporters of Anonymous hacker and self-styled online anarchist, Jeremy Hammond, are circulating this online petition aimed at cajoling authorities into granting the 28-year-old leniency. Hammond pled guilty this morning to participating in the December 2011 hacking of online publication Stratfor.
Hammond supporters maintain that e-mails he helped steal from Stratfor and post online exposed Stratfor’s complicity in surveillance of anti-corporate activists. Stratfor founder George Friedman strongly refutes such notions as nonsense. He has said that Stratfor is a straight-forward, for-profit online publication that charges subscribers $350 a year for well-researched and written essays on global affairs.
Stratfor’s site was knocked off line for several weeks. The Stratfor hack was a wakeup call for many web businesses, small and large, that have been lax about data protection. Not much has changed, says Jeremy Bergsman, a practice manager at management consultancy CEB.
The average Fortune 500 company only has about 42% of the state-of-the-art protections that are available for key systems, up from 39% in 2011, according to a CEB study.
“Our understanding of hactivism—and sophisticated attacks in general—has changed in one important way in the last year: we now realize it is impossible to predict who is going to attack you and why,” Bergsman says.
In a statement posted widely online, Hammond says part of the reason he pled guilty was his firm belief “in the power of truth.”
“This non-cooperating plea agreement frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline,” Hammond asserts. “Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. . . . I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.”