The leaked data from web hosting (opens in new tab) company Epik has started unraveling the double-life of many of its customers, according to reports.
Hacktivist group Anonymous recently claimed (opens in new tab) to have obtained and leaked 180GB of data on Epik's business and customers, for its position of providing web hosting services to many prominent right-wing and controversial platforms, such as the Gab social media platform, Bitchute video sharing, and the pro-Trump Patriots.win messaging board.
Aubrey “Kirtaner” Cottle, a security researcher and co-founder of Anonymous, told The Washington Post that the group’s actions were fueled by their frustrations over Epik serving as a refuge for far-right extremists.
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“Everyone is tired of hate. There hasn’t been enough pushback, and these far-right players, they play dirty. Nothing is out of bounds for them. And now … the tide is turning, and there’s a swell moving back in their direction,” reasoned Cottle, who didn’t shy away from confronting Epik CEO (opens in new tab), Rob Monster over a video conference (opens in new tab) call last week.
Over 100,000 users affected
In a data-breach notice filed with the attorney general’s office in Maine, Epik claimed that 110,000 people across the US had been affected by the hack.
Reviewing the leaked data, The Post reveals that in addition to personally identifiable information (PII) of the customers including their names and home addresses, the details also include full credit card numbers, unencrypted passwords and other highly sensitive data.
The data has already outed a Florida real estate agent as the owner of several hate-spewing and holocaust denial portals, resulting in his sacking.
Heidi Beirich, a veteran trackers of online hate and extremism, referred to the leaked data as the “mother of all data lodes,” saying that further analysis will help shine a light on the hidden ecosystem that fuels the extremist websites and organizations.
“Our long-held policy of content neutrality has made our platform appealing to some in an increasingly polarized landscape. We do not endorse or condone any one particular ideology, and we feel uncomfortable with calls to censor those who use our services,” an Epic spokesperson told The Post, adding that domains affiliated with right-wing politics make up less than 1% of its customers.
The Post notes that while many website owners who trusted Epik to keep their identities hidden were exposed due to the hack, several others continue to remain anonymous since they took additional precautions, such as using fake names and paying in cryptocurrency (opens in new tab).
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Via The Washington Post (opens in new tab)