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Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as Stratfor, is a global intelligence company founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas by George Friedman who is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company. Fred Burton is Stratfor's Vice President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security.

In early 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing what is says are over 5 million of the company's emails.[1]

ProductsEdit

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.[2] 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 has some products available to the public including private briefings, corporate memberships, a publishing business that includes written and multimedia analysis and an iPhone application.[3]

Stratfor has been cited by media such as CNN, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times and the BBC as an authority on strategic and tactical intelligence issues.[4] Barron's once referred to it as "The Shadow CIA".[5]

SubscribersEdit

Stratfor's subscribers list was confidential, and the company's publicity list includes Fortune 500 companies and international government agencies.[6] 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.[7] Stratfor instead claimed that the group only recovered a list of news subscriptions.

Currently Stratfor's products are oriented around individual subscriptions. Some of Stratfor's work remains available free to the public.[8]

2011 hacking incidentEdit

It was reported on December 24, 2011 that members of Anonymous had stolen emails and credit-card data from Stratfor's website.[9] According to the one page that remained at Stratfor's web site, the "Site is currently undergoing maintenance[:] Please check back soon".[10] 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.[10]

The hackers claimed to have retrieved over 200 gigabytes of data.[11] The hackers stated that Stratfor was "clueless...when it comes to database security". The passwords were in plain text[12] and many of the passwords were simply the name of the company.[11] The failure to encrypt the passwords was called "an embarrassing mistake for a company specializing in security" by Zoe Fox of CNN.[12] The list of the leaked accounts has been made available online for users to check if they are affected.[13] Stratfor advised employees and clients not to publicly state support for their company, fearing additional attacks against those that did so.[11] The group posted two sets of stolen credit card data, one containing 3,956 items and the other with 13,191 items.[7] Next they posted a set of over 30,000 items.[14][15]

The hackers said they used the credit card data to make donations to various charities, including the Red Cross, Save the Children and CARE.[16] However, one security expert stated that the charities will never receive the payments, claiming that instead, customers will report the fraudulent transaction, and the credit cards will return the money to the customer using a charge back. The charities may risk being assessed large fees as a result, and at the very least, will have to spend time and money processing them.[7]

2012 leakEdit

Main article: 2012 Stratfor email leak

WikiLeaks announced the initial publishing of over 5 million of the company's emails on February 26, 2012.[17] Anonymous has claimed to have provided WikiLeaks with the data.[18] George Friedman has claimed that some of the emails may have been forged or altered by WikiLeaks or Anonymous, but that Stratfor would not validate either.[19] Stratfor has condemned the release as "deplorable".[19] The Guardian referred to the first published leaks of Stratfor material as peering in to an "intelligence-industrial complex".[20]

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit


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