Anonymous OpPetrol Attacks ‘Passing Like Tumbleweed’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

This is how OpPetrol ends – not with a bang, but a whimper

Despite claims from the hacktivist group Anonymous of big successes in its campaign on oil and gas companies, onlookers have said the impact has been almost non-existent.

The OpPetrol campaign was announced in May and today was supposed to be the big final day of action. In the lead up, it was claimed as many as 1,000 websites, 35,000 email credentials and over 100,000 Facebook accounts had been compromised as part of the operation.

Anonymous © Rob Kints Shutterstock 2012The attackers, purportedly Muslim members of Anonymous, said they would hit oil and gas companies in various countries, including the UK, US, China, Israel and Germany. They appear to have political reasons for the attacks, as noted on their Pastebin announcement from last month.

OpPetrol fail?

Yet so far no major leaks or breaches have been confirmed, whilst the security industry has seen almost nothing of note. It is believed much of the leaked data has been rehashed from previous attacks too.

One source working with high profile clients in the energy industry told TechWeekEurope they had seen “nothing, tumbleweed”.

“Not a single mention on any of our internal lists,” said the source, who works at a major security vendor.

Trend Micro said there were a number of defacements and some disclosures, but little impact.. “Attacker participation and the overall sophistication of the attacks leading into 20 June appears to be limited,” said Trend’s threat researcher Darin Dutcher.

“An operation like #OpPetrol, however, allows opportunities for different attackers with different skill sets and agenda to join in the cause and execute their own missions.

“Furthermore, not all sectors have equal resiliency and countermeasures, so tempered caution with proactive security countermeasures is highly recommended.”

Symantec issued cautious advice, telling organisations to be prepared for an onslaught, handing out typical security advice that every firm should take note of.

“Organisations should monitor for unusual activities in their networks, particularly any attempts to breach the perimeters,” it said, in a blog post.

“Staff members should be specifically trained on social engineering mitigation tactics along with regular security awareness training.”

It marks another unsuccessful operation for Anonymous, which recently saw its OpUSA attacks go out with a whimper, and OpIsrael hits cause little fuss.

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