Move over Anonymous, make way for The Unknowns

The latest shadowy hacker group to strike is calling itself The Unknowns, and they’re bragging they’ve hacked NASA Glenn Research Center, the U.S. Air Force, the European Space Agency and others, posting some network-access details.

The group’s missive left on Pastebin this week claims that its list of “victims” also includes the Thai Royal Navy, Harvard, Renault Company, the French Ministry of Defense and the Jordanian Yellow Pages.

The Unknowns aren’t saying their intrusions occurred because they didn’t like the organizations they targeted for some reason — which is the usual Anonymous explanation. Rather, their motivation seems more to show off their security wiles and “wisdom,” according to their own explanation.

“Victims, we have released some of your documents and data, we probably harmed you a bit but that’s not really our goal because if it was then all of your websites would be completely defaced but we know that within a week or two, the vulnerabilities we found will be patched and that’s what we’re actually looking for,” The Unknowns said in their posting. They intimated they’re going after other websites, too.

The Unknowns left an email urging the “victims” to contact them, saying they’re ready to provide them with “information on how we penetrated your databases and we’re ready to do this at any time so just contact us.”

The group also seems to be encouraging organizations that it hasn’t hacked — or announced it has hacked — to contact them, though for what exactly is unclear. “Contact us before we take action and we will help you, and not release anything.” This would be a highly unusual step for any organization to take to solicit advice from a shadowy hacker group if only because of concerns about being subject to some kind of extortion.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

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