Stratfor

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Stratfor
Type Private
Industry Intelligence
Founded 1996 (1996)
Headquarters Austin, Texas, USA
Key people George Friedman (founder and chairman)
Products strategic intelligence, tactical intelligence, custom intelligence, written and multimedia analysis, corporate security analysis, geopolitics
Employees 70 (2004)
Website www.stratfor.com

Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as Stratfor, is an American global intelligence company founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas, by George Friedman, who is the company's chairman. Shea Morenz is president and chief executive officer. Fred Burton is Stratfor's vice president of intelligence, and Robert D. Kaplan serves as chief geopolitical analyst.

Products[edit]

Stratfor bills itself as a geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm, with revenues derived from subscriptions to its website and from corporate clients. On the consulting side, the company says it helps clients to identify opportunities, make strategic decisions and manage political and security risks.

Stratfor has published a daily intelligence briefing since its inception in 1996. Its rise to prominence occurred with the release of its Kosovo Crisis Center during the 1999 NATO airstrikes over Kosovo, which led to publicity in Time magazine, Texas Monthly, and other publications.[1] Before the end of 1999, however, Stratfor had introduced a subscription service through which it offered the majority of its analyses. At the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Stratfor made its "breaking news" paragraphs, as well as some notable analyses predicting likely actions to be taken by al-Qaeda and the Bush administration, available freely to the public.

Stratfor's publishing business includes written and multimedia analysis and an iPhone application.[2]

Stratfor has been cited by media such as the Associated Press, BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Reuters, and The New York Times as an authority on strategic and tactical intelligence issues.[3] Barron's once referred to it as "The Shadow CIA".[4]

Subscribers[edit]

Stratfor's subscribers list was confidential, and the company's publicity list includes Fortune 500 companies and international government agencies.[5] The hacker groups Anonymous and LulzSec claimed to have made it public on December 24, 2011 as part of Operation AntiSec. However, Stratfor denied that the hack recovered the client list.[6] Stratfor instead claimed that the group only recovered a list of news subscriptions.

Currently, Stratfor's products are oriented around individual subscriptions, consulting work and public speaking engagements. Some of Stratfor's work remains available free to the public.[7]

Incidents[edit]

2011 hacking incident[edit]

It was reported on December 24, 2011 that members of Anonymous had stolen email messages and credit card data from Stratfor's website.[8] According to the one page that remained at Stratfor's web site, the "Site is currently undergoing maintenance[:] Please check back soon".[9] The hackers claimed to have retrieved the company's client list and used stolen credit card information to make donations to various charities exceeding one million dollars.[9]

The hackers claimed to have also retrieved over 200 gigabytes of data[10] and stated that Stratfor was "clueless...when it comes to database security". The passwords were in plain text,[11] and many of the passwords were simply the name of the company.[10] The failure to encrypt the passwords was called "an embarrassing mistake for a company specializing in security" by Zoe Fox of CNN.[11] The list of the leaked accounts has been made available online for users to check if they are affected.[12] Stratfor advised employees and clients not to publicly state support for their company, fearing additional attacks against those who did so.[10] The group initially posted two sets of stolen credit card data, one containing 3,956 items and the other 13,191 items.[6] Next, they posted a set of over 30,000 items.[13][14]

The hackers said they used the credit card data to make donations to various charities, including CARE, the Red Cross, and Save the Children.[15]

In November 2013, computer hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his role in the Anonymous attack.[16]

2012 leak[edit]

WikiLeaks announced the initial publication of over 5 million of Stratfor's email messages on February 26, 2012.[17] Anonymous claimed to have provided WikiLeaks with the data.[18] George Friedman stated that third parties may have forged or altered the email messages, but that Stratfor would not validate either alterations or authenticity.[19] Stratfor condemned the release as "deplorable".[20] Journalist Amy Goodman, writing in The Guardian, referred to the first published leaks of Stratfor material as peering into an "intelligence-industrial complex".[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Spies Like Us", Time, January 25, 1999
  2. ^ Stratfor products
  3. ^ Stratfor media coverage
  4. ^ Laing, Jonathan R. (October 15, 2001). "The Shadow CIA". Barron's magazine. Retrieved December 19, 2010.  (read complete article)
  5. ^ "Brazil Oil Finds May End Reliance on Middle East, Zeihan Says". Bloomberg. April 23, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b John P Mello (December 26, 2011). "Confidential Client List Safe from Anonymous, Says Hacker Target". PCWorld. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Stratfor's Free Intelligence Reports". Stratfor. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ "'Anonymous' Claims Hack of Credit Data From Security Group". Wall Street Journal. December 25, 2011. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b Nicole Perlroth (December 25, 2011). "Hackers Breach the Web Site of Stratfor Global Intelligence". New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Olivia Katrandjian (December 26, 2011). "Hacking Group 'Anonymous' Takes First Step in 'Master Plan,' Vows to Strike Again". ABC News. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Zoe Fox (December 26, 2011). "'Anonymous' hackers hit security group". CNN. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ Dazzlepod (December 26, 2011). "Stratfor's customers checklist". Dazzlepod. Retrieved December 26, 2011. 
  13. ^ Norton, Quinn (December 26, 2011). "Antisec Hits Private Intel Firm; Millions of Docs Allegedly Lifted". wired.com. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  14. ^ Clark Estes, Adam (December 27, 2011). "Anonymous Hackers Play Tricky 21st-Century Robin Hood". The Atlantic Wire. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  15. ^ "'Anonymous' Claims Hack of Credit Data From Security Group". The Wall Street Journal. December 25, 2011. [dead link]
  16. ^ Kopstein, Joshua (21 November 2013). "Hacker with a Cause". The New Yorker. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Global Intelligence Files". WikiLeaks. February 27, 2012. 
  18. ^ Andy Greenberg. "WikiLeaks Tightens Ties To Anonymous In Leak Of Stratfor Emails". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  19. ^ "George Friedman on Email Theft and the WikiLeaks Release". Stratfor. February 28, 2012. "Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies. Some may be authentic. We will not validate either [...]" 
  20. ^ "George Friedman on Email Theft and the WikiLeaks Release". Stratfor. February 28, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Stratfor, WikiLeaks and the Obama administration's War on Truth". The Guardian. March 1, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]