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4chan Revolt of ACS:Law Anti-Piracy Crusade Leaves Thousands Compromised

ACS:Law screenshotThe London law firm ACS:Law has made a concerted effort to fight online piracy and punish illegal file-sharers. Andrew Crossley, the U.K. firm's manager, learned an agonizing lesson in humility this week, though, after agitating the Web's most infamous and dangerous group of pirate guerrillas. After his company's website endured an attack by 4chan renegades, a dismissive Crossley reportedly claimed he was more concerned with "having to queue for a coffee than wasting [his] time" dealing with hackers and hooligans.

Well, the attack not only temporarily disabled the ACS:Law site, but also allowed the hackers to access internal e-mails. Attached to one correspondence was an unencrypted list of approximately 5,300 people that were reportedly "alleged to be illegally sharing adult films online." So, as part of Operation Payback is a B****, the 4chan group posted the list of purported porn-sharers to Pirate Bay for the entire world to see.

The hackers followed that action by posting another ACS:Law list of suspected music and movie sharers. The second breach affects more than 8,000 Sky and PlusNet subscribers (some of whom claim innocence), and could contribute to an $800,000 fine for ACS:Law. U.K. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham expressed grave concern over the matter, and vowed that his department would comprehensively investigate ACS:Law's security training methods and its lackadaisical protection practices. According to the BBC, privacy expert Simon Davies labeled the irresponsible leaks as "one of the worst breaches" of the nation's Data Protection Act on record.

Crossley should obviously harbor far greater concern over hackers and site vulnerabilities now, but that's little consolation to the 14,000 vulnerable people now publicly associated with porn and piracy. Since such data breaches continue to exponentially escalate, actively protecting one's personal information and online activities (while not infuriating the 4chan porn lovers) should be compulsory and ingrained practices.

Tags: 4chan, filesharing, hack, law, piracy, privacy, privacyissues, security, uk, web