Epic hack: The Anonymous leaked data of the company's customers, as a result of which they were revealed information for the Proud Boys team and other far-right groups.
The web hosting company Epik has been around for a long time refuge for individuals and organizations that support various conspiracy theories and far-right views. For example, the company provides services to proponents of conspiracy theories QAnon, in the far right organization Proud Boys and other instigators of her attack 6th January in the US Capitol. Providing services allows them to share their extremist content, while maintaining their anonymity.
This, however, does not seem to be the case anymore, after the Epik hack by the hackctivist group Anonymous. Anonymous violated the company's systems and published a huge amount of data which were stored in them. The data includes, among other things, usernames, passwords and other information Identification of Epik customers (and not just customers).
Researchers involved in identifying extremist groups, such as the Proud Boys, have found that leaking Epik data from Anonymous would be very useful, as they can learn information about the people behind these groups and their actions. The first revelations have been circulating on Twitter since the news of the Epik hack was released, but those who study the material say it will take months, maybe years, to search for all this data.
"It's huge. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I've seen and, as an extremism researcher, it's definitely the most interesting leak", Said the Megan Squire, professor of computer science at Elon University.
Epik has become more popular precisely because it offers internet services to sites that violate the policies of other companies, promoting hate speech, misinformation and violence. Its customer list consists of organizations and sites that have been removed by other well-known companies due to their extremist content.
Some of Epik's most well-known customers were 8chan, Gab and Parler.
In addition, Epik provides services to a network of websites dedicated to the QAnon extremist conspiracy theory. Epik briefly hosted the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer in 2019, but soon canceled the contract, according to reports. Epik also reported that stopped supporting 8chan after a short time.
A few days after the hack was revealed by Anonymous, the founder of Epik said that the company was facing a cyber security incident and asked customers to report any unusual activity.
Files include time data, Company internal emails and customer account credentials, revealing who manages some of the largest far-right sites. The data include customer names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and passwords. The hack from Anonymous even revealed the personal files from Anonymize, a privacy service offered by Epik to customers who wish to conceal their identity.
The researchers say that the most critical findings in this leak concern her identity of people associated with various extremist sites (Proud Boys and others) and the key role played by Epik in maintaining online content, which would otherwise have disappeared from the Internet.
"Without Epik, many extremist communities — of them QAnon and white nationalists to the neo-Nazis — they would have far less oxygen to spread evil, whether it came from the Capitol attack or from the misinformation and conspiracy theories that abolished democracy.", Said the Rita Katz, its executive director SITE Intelligence Group, studying extremism on the internet.
Last week, when Anonymous announced the Epik hack, they said they would help investigators locate the ownership and management of “the worst garbage the internet has to offer".
The company initially said it had not found any breach, but the founder later admitted that there was data theft and urged people not to use the data for "negative" purposes.
Many domains in the Epik data leak are related to the far-right Proud Boys, which is known for street fights and involvement in the Capitol attack. The group was removed from Facebook in 2018 as a hate group.
A Twitter account, @epikfailsnippet, that reports leaks, included a thread that supposedly exposes Proud Boys site administrators (not verified). A man who was considered the administrator of a local Proud Boys forum is said to have been a university employee, although the university says he has not worked there since November 2020.
Researchers are trying to make sure the data is accurate and reliable.