Anonymous on Friday, released a 17-minute recording of a secret conference call last month between the FBI and Scotland Yard. In the tape a British and American agent discussed strategies for tracking and prosecuting hacking groups, including Anonymous.
The conversation, according to BBC, took place on January 17, and begins with a light hearted exchange in which the agents talk about "cheese," and "McDonald's at the Pentagon." (listen to audio tape recording/excerpts of the conversation below).
The U.S. agent on the line was identified as "Bruce," and the British agent he was talking with was identified as "Stuart." After the conversation had been going on for some time, Bruce said to Stuart: "'I'm not sure if we're the only two on right now or not." Stuart answered: "Bruce, don't say anything too bad, I'm here with Matt."
At a point in the conversation, the FBI agent thanked the Metropolitan police for giving assistance and the British agent answered: "We're here to help. We've cocked things up in the past, we know that."
Anonymous, evidently feeling triumphant, boasted on Twitter: "The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."
'Democracy was given birth in your country but you have killed it'
Anonymous also claimed responsibility for hacking the website of the police force in Boston, Massachusetts. They also claimed they attacked the website of the Greek Ministry of Justice. BBC reports anonymous said the action was in protest of Greece's signing of a global copyright treaty and the Greek government's handling of the economic crisis in the country. According to BBC, the Greek website was replaced with a video showing a figure wearing the white mask associated with Anonymous. The figure said: "Democracy was given birth in your country but you have killed it."
Anonymous with Guy Fawkes masks at Scientology in Los Angeles.
F.B.I. admits authenticity of recording
According to Daily Mail, the FBI has admitted the recording is authentic. The FBI said the information was "intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained....A criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible."
London's Metropolitan Police also acknowledged the recording is genuine, and said on Friday: "We are aware of the video, which relates to an FBI conference call involving a PCeU (Police Central e-crime Unit) representative. The matter is being investigated by the FBI. At this stage no operational risks to the MPS have been identified - however, we continue to carry out a full assessment."
The New York Times reports Anonymous also published an FBI email titled “Anon-Lulz International Coordination Call” sent to UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and France with phone number and passwords to allow participants join in the conference called “to discuss the on-going investigations related to Anonymous, Lulzsec, Antisec, and other associated splinter groups.”
But in the published recording only a British and an American agent were heard talking. They talked about legal strategy to employ in the cases of two British suspected to have links to Anonymous, Ryan Cleary and Jake Davis. They also discussed evidence that implicated the suspects.
Anonymous protesting against Scientology in 2008
FBI: 'Anonymous only intercepted email'
The lawyer of one of the suspects mentioned in the recording, commenting, said the recording could be "incredibly sensitive." She said the breach of security could have negative impact on police work. She said: "If they haven't secured their email it could potentially prejudice the investigation."
AFP reports that a data security expert Graham Cluley, said the hackers were able to access the communications because they had hacked into the email of one of the people FBI invited to the conference call. BBC reports the lawyer of one of the suspects mentioned in the taped discussion said Anonymous probably obtained the recording as an audiofile from an intercepted email, and that they really did not eavesdrop on the discussion.
According to The New York Times, an FBI official has also claimed the recording is an audiofile from an intercepted email. The FBI official explained that Anonymous did not hack into the conference call or FBI's computer systems, but obtained an email that gave the time, telephone number and access code for the call. According to the FBI official, the email was sent on January 13 to several people at the Bureau, Scotland Yard and agencies in France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and Sweden. According to the FBI official, one of the recipients of the email forwarded it to a private account where it was intercepted.
The official said: “It’s not really that sophisticated....We’re always looking at ways to make our communications more secure, and obviously we’ll be taking a look at what happened here."
Excerpts from the taped conversation:The conference call starts off with what seems a light-hearted exchange between the British and U.S. agents:
"Please enter your passcode followed by the # key or *0 to speak with an operator. Your passcode has been confirmed. Please wait while you are joined to the conference"
"Hey Stuart? Hey, it's Bruce"
"Hello Bruce, how're you doing?"
'Alright. I'm not sure if we're the only two on right now or not"
"Bruce, don't say anything too bad - I'm here with Matt"
"Do you wanna talk about cheese?"
"Cheese? What about that McDonald's at the Pentagon eh? I've told so many people. No-one believes me"
'We've still got Ryan Cleary and James Davis due at court on the 27th. Following some discussion with the New York office, we're looking to try and build some time in to allow some operational matters to fulfill on your side of the water"
"We've set back the further arrests of Kayla and Tee-flow (until) we know what's happening. We've got our prosecution council making an application in chambers, i.e. without the defence knowing, to seek a way to try and factor some time in that won't looking suspicious"
"We've cocked things up in the past, we know that, so it gives us more time to examine the track logs in any event"
"The lad who (was) of interest to one of the guys at New York. He got arrested just before Christmas (and) he did some stuff on the supposed 'project mayhem' - or whatever the hell that was - 'operation f**k you,' where he hacked a website. I think it was the Manchester Credit Union, that's based in Jamaica. He defaced that site. He's a 15-year-old kid who’s basically just doing this all for attention and a bit of an idiot"
"We've been speaking with Irish around Palladium and Porn Source - and looking to share some intelligence with them and some information on that"