London: Thousands of e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to British, American and NATO officials, have been posted online following a security breach by hackers.
The hackers, who are believed to be part of the Anonymous Group, gained unauthorised access over Christmas to the account information of an American security firm Stratfor.
The huge database of private information exposed by self-styled “hacktivists” includes the details of 221 British military officials and 242 NATO staff, The Guardian reports.
Civil servants working with the British government, including several in the Cabinet Office as well as advisers to the Joint Intelligence Organisation, which acts as the Prime Minister`s eyes and ears on sensitive information, have also been exposed.
John Bumgarner, an expert in cyber-security at the US Cyber Consequences Unit, identified within the data posted by the hackers the details of hundreds of UK government officials, some of whom work in sensitive areas.
According to him, details of a much larger group of US military personnel were leaked. The database has some 19,000 e-mail addresses ending in the .mil domain of the US military.
In the US case, Bumgarner has found, 173 individuals deployed in Afghanistan and 170 in Iraq can be identified.
Personal data from former vice president Dan Quayle and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger were also released, Bumgarner said.
According to the report, the database stolen from the security firm contained user Ids, usually e-mail addresses, and encrypted passwords of about 850,000 individuals who had subscribed to Stratfor’s website.
Some 75,000 paying subscribers also had their credit card numbers and addresses exposed, including 462 UK accounts.