Security Experts:

Stratfor to Settle Class Action Lawsuit With e-Books and Subscriptions

Strategic Forecasting Inc. (Stratfor), a Texas-based intelligence firm that delivers paid briefings on a wide range of topics, suffered a pre-Christmas breach at the hands of AntiSec.

The attack on Stratfor led to the loss of internal emails, which were then used to further the embarrassment the firm suffered, as their private speculations and data gathering sources were made public. Moreover, customer credit card information was exposed hanks to poor protection mechanisms, leading to 60,000 hijacked accounts and more than $700,000 in losses. The item of not that ensured that the breach was forced into the spotlight however, was the release of 860,160 account passwords and email addresses. It is within that large dump of data that the credit cards were discovered.

One customer sued Stratfor over the breach, and a settlement proposed earlier this year was given the green light this month by a U.S. District Court Judge in Long Island. Under the proposed terms of the settlement, which will have a final approval and fairness hearing this September, Stratfor will admit to no wrong doing, fault, or violation of law, nor will they admit to any liability of any kind.

In exchange, class members who opt in to the lawsuit (anyone who was a current for former customer as of 24 December 2011) will receive one free month of access to Stratfor’s paid subscription service ($30), a e-book titled The Blue Book, which was published by Stratfor ($13), as well as additional credit monitoring for those who request it. Moreover, Stratfor would have to purchase additional network protections, pay $400,000 in attorney fees, and share any amount recovered from their insurance company, if any.

The FBI arrested Jeremy Hammond, former LulzSec member and alleged mastermind of the Stratfor hack, earlier this year. He pled not guilty to charges against him in May, when he appeared before a judge in Manhattan. He was returned to custody after his appearance, and is scheduled to return to court on July 23.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.