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Hackers Post Law Firm E-Mail, Exposing Defendant Data, Lawyer’s ‘Lambo’ Tastes

Posted Sep 27, 2010 7:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Hackers have obtained e-mails from a U.K. law firm that sues people suspected of illegal file-sharing, according to reports on legal technology blogs. The messages have been posted on the Pirate Bay website and other file-sharing networks, where they have been downloaded and dissected in online reports.

E-mails hacked from the firm ACS:Law revealed everything from the firm owner’s penchant for high-priced sports cars to angry missives sent to his former wife to personal information of defendants sued by the firm, according to stories by TorrentFreak, the Register and ISPreview. Now the firm that pursued tens of thousands of illegal downloaders may find itself a defendant in a privacy lawsuit faulting the firm for inadvertently exposing the data to hackers.

The group Anonymous, which originated and organizes at the website 4chan.org, targeted ACS:Law, attacking its site and recovering the e-mail that was exposed as the firm tried to re-establish its Web presence.

TorrentFreak posted one e-mail in which law firm owner Andrew Crossley reveals a weekend he spent shopping for a car. “May go for a Lambo or Ferrari,” he wrote. “I am so predictable!” He ended up buying a Jeep Compass 2, however. Other “highly abusive e-mails” were dispatched to his ex-wife, the blog says.

One report says the e-mail from ACS:Law contains information about defendants sued by the law firm, including their names and addresses, according to a press release by the group Privacy International. Some reports indicate that credit card information was also contained in the e-mail, the press release says.

Privacy International estimates that the e-mail files have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. The group is planning to take legal action against ACS:Law for exposing the data.

Other targets of website attacks by Anonymous included the law firm Davenport Lyons, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Last updated on Oct. 1 to clarify the name of the hacker group.

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