A hacker group calling itself AnonGhost has claimed responsibility for defacing hundreds of websites and doxing 500 names and credit card numbers, part of a religiously motivated cyberattack campaign called #OpPetrol.
The operation is targeting corporate websites from oil-rich countries in the Middle East and the West, to protest what it calls exploitation via the currency of oil and gas. AnonGhost, which has a history of targeting Israeli websites, wrote in a message on Pastebin that the corporations and governments being targeted have created a world order built on the “Petro Dollar,” which fundamentally dehumanizes the economy.
The group is planning cyberattacks on oil and gas corporations in the United States, Canada, England, Israel, China, Italy, France, Russia, and Germany, and government websites in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.
The self-described Muslim hackers claim they’ve already defaced hundreds of sites to protest American imperialism and the global dominance of the greenback, seeing Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the US as a betrayal of Muslim values.
“The new world order installed their own rules so that they can control us like robots,” the message reads.
So far, few of the websites affected seem to have anything to do with the oil industry, however. The main attack is planned for June 30.
Despite early reports that the group is tied to the hacktivist collective Anonymous, an AnonGhost representative told me that’s not the case. “I hope anonymous will join (y) and many other teams, if they join the Op it will be good, if not we can do it alone as usual ;)”
The groups claims it’s going to use different methods than Anonymous’ now-infamous distributed denial of service (DDoS). “Ddos is just for Anonymous Clowns with their LOIC [Low Orbit Ion Cannon, Anonymous’ DDoS application] xD, we breach only, Ddos anyone can do it, we gonna do magic things and see.”
Rather than just rendering websites inoperable, AnonGhost has a history of defacing sites. Much of the group’s propaganda has been recycled from last year’s #OpPetrol operation, including the statement text, and an Anonymous-style video promoting the campaign.
The AnonGhost member I talked to declined to discuss the operation in more detail, saying, “we can't give them a hint about how we gonna do it ;), they should just expect us dear.”
But as security firm Symantec noted, “Public announcements by these groups are often used as a means to gain notoriety or media attention and can be of highly volatile credibility.”
Symantec also noted however that it’s important to take such threats seriously, and that DDoS attacks can simply be a diversion from the real attacks like fraudulent or illegal wire transfers.
AnonGhosts’ agenda combines online activism with conservative Islam. Last year, a few days after the first #OpPetrol campaign, Reuters contacted the group’s leader, alias “Mauritania Attacker” who explained the group represents “represents a new generation of Western-style Islamists who promote religious conservatism and traditional values, and oppose those they see as backing Zionism and Western hegemony.”
When I asked the unnamed spokesperson why call the group AnonGhost, the reply was simple: “Anon = Anon Hacker, Ghost = Crazy ghost hacker.”