A chain of recent, devastating hacks is exposing some of the Internet’s most fiercely guarded secrets, stepping up a guerrilla struggle between tech firms and anonymous hackers and raising fears that everyday Internet users could get caught in the crossfire.
Hackers this week dumped a colossal haul of data stolen from Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming site, revealing what they said was not just the million-dollar payouts for its most popular video game streamers but the site’s entire source code — the DNA, written over a decade, central to keeping the company alive.
That followed the hack by the group Anonymous that exposed the most crucial inner workings of Epik, an Internet services company popular with the far right, and triggered firings and other consequences for some of the company’s clients whose identities had previously been undisclosed.
The Epik hack also made way for breaches into the websites of the Texas GOP, one of America’s biggest state party affiliates, and the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that contributed to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A California sheriff faced calls for his resignation this week after the hack showed evidence that he had been a member of the group in 2014.
The perpetrators of these hacks are distancing themselves from financially driven cybercriminals and ransomware gangs by portraying their attacks as moral crusades against what they said were the companies’ sins. In celebratory notes released alongside their data dumps, the Epik hackers said they were sick of the company serving hateful websites, while the Twitch hackers used a hashtag criticizing company efforts to confront harassment and said the site had become a “disgusting cesspool.”
“Jeff Bezos paid $970 million for this,” the hackers wrote, referring to the price Amazon paid to buy the company in 2014. “We’re giving it away FOR FREE.” (Bezos, Amazon’s founder, owns The Washington…