“The Fascist Side of the Internet” Hacked: Proud Boys and QAnon Websites Fall Victims of Anonymous
The hacktivist collective Anonymous has leaked more than 150 gigabytes of private data after it hacked web registration company Epik, a popular domain host for far-right groups.
Popular far-right platforms like Parler, Gab and 8chan, as well as far-right groups like the Proud Boys and QAnon, recently migrated to Epik after being banned from other platforms in the wake of the January 6 on Capitol Hill for violating hate speech policies. and spread disinformation. Last week, Anonymous dumped what it said was a “decade” of corporate data into a torrent file, including passwords, internal emails, home addresses, and phone numbers.
“After years of bolstering the worst junk the internet has to offer, this really is the Epik moment we’ve all been waiting for,” the group said in a statement it released with the data dump, which was first reported by freelance journalist Steven monacelli.
“This data set is all that is needed to trace the actual ownership and management of the fascist side of the Internet,” the statement said. “It’s time to find out who in your family secretly ran an ivermectin horse fetish porn site, a disinfo company, or yet another hellhole in Qanon.”
Extremism researchers say the leak is akin to a “far-right Rosetta Stone” and helps them find new links between the groups.
“It’s huge. This is possibly the biggest domain style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s definitely the most interesting,” the Washington Post told The Washington Post Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. . “It is the embarrassment of riches – insist on the embarrassment.”
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Epik made national headlines earlier this month after offering its support to Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group whose website was removed from GoDaddy because it solicited information about women who solicited abortions in violation of Texas’ new near total ban. But Epik eventually stopped working with the site because it broke their rules against collecting private information. Epik has in recent years become a safe space for far-right platforms started from major web hosts like Amazon Web Services, although it has tried to take steps to get rid of some of its lesser customers. more toxic, thus severing links with the neo-Nazi site. Daily Stormer and 8chan.
“The company has played such an important role in keeping far-right terrorist sumps alive,” Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which studies extremism online, told the Post. “Without Epik, many extremist communities – from QAnon and white nationalists to accelerationist neo-Nazis – would have had much less oxygen to spread evil, whether in view of the January 6 Capitol riots or by spreading disinformation. and conspiracy theories that eat away at democracy. “
Epik founder Robert Monster has drawn growing criticism for hosting extremist content. Monster has denied having extremist views, but following the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting that left 50 people dead, he posted links to the shooter’s video and posted his so-called manifesto. Monster insisted that his employees watch the video, which he said was rigged, according to Bloomberg News.
Monster acknowledged the hack in an email to customers last week, alerting them to a “suspected security incident.”
“You are in our prayers today,” he wrote, according to the Post. “When situations arise where individuals might not have honorable intentions, I pray for them. I believe that what the enemy aims for evil, God invariably turns for good. Blessing to you all.”
But the company has been “ridiculed” by researchers who “marveled at the site’s apparent inability to take security measures,” according to the report. None of the files were encrypted, the researchers said, including the data revealing far-right website administrators and passwords. The hack also exposed personal data from Anonymize, a privacy service offered by the company to users who wanted to hide their identities. Previous similar hacks sparked Federal Trade Commission investigations and heavy settlements.
“Given Epik’s bragging about the security and breadth of its web hosting, I think it would be a target for the FTC, especially if the company were on notice but did not take protective measures,” David Vladeck, former director of consumer protection for the FTC. office, told the Post. “I would add that the FTC wouldn’t care about content – right or left; the questions would be the possible magnitude and impact of the breach and the representations… the company may have made about security. “
Epik initially said it was unaware of the hack, but Monster, on a “three-hour live broadcast” last week, admitted there had been “data theft. which should not have been hijacked, “according to the report.
“If you have a negative intention to use this data, it won’t work for you. I’m just telling you,” he said. “If the demon tells you to do it, the demon is not your friend.”
But extremism researchers have likened the leak to “Panama Papers of hate groups,” Emma Best, co-founder of the nonprofit whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets, told The Post.
“A lot of research starts with naming names,” she said. “There’s a lot of optimism and a feeling of being overwhelmed, and people know they’re in for the long haul with some of this data.”