Charities Pledge to Refund Stratfor Hacking Victims

Charities have pledged to reimburse donations fraudulently made by unwitting clients of Strategic Forecasting — the Austin-based global intelligence organization commonly known as Stratfor — after the company's databases were compromised by hackers affiliated with Anonymous, a loose coalition of "netizens" that has previously attacked a variety of corporate and government computer systems, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

While it is unclear how many charities are involved, the hackers posted screen shots of receipts for donations to several charitable groups, and one victim told the Associated Press he had discovered $700 in donations to a number of nonprofits, including CARE, the Red Cross, and Save the Children.

Identity Finder, a New York-based data loss and identity theft prevention service, has released a report detailing the extent of the data breach, which included nearly 10,000 compromised credit card numbers, almost 50,000 unique email addresses, more than 25,000 unique phone numbers, and 44,000 encrypted passwords, roughly 50 percent of which were considered easy to crack.

Stratfor, whose Web site is still down for "maintenance," posted a notice on Facebook announcing that it had hired an identity-theft protection and monitoring service to help affected clients, while the American Red Cross and CARE have assured victims that their money will be returned.

"We're happy to work with anyone to make sure they're refunded," said Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Pipkin. "We're still looking into it. Obviously there's an uptick in donations anyway because it's a big donor week."

Suzanne Perry. "Charities That May Have Benefited From Hacking Seek to Make Refunds." Chronicle of Philanthropy 12/28/2011.