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Booz Allen CEO downplays effect of Anonymous hack

"This is really not a group of kids out there that are playing video games," CEO says of Anonymous

A July cyberattack on Booz Allen Hamilton will not materially harm the company's bottom line, its CEO said Tuesday.

The Anonymous hacking collective stole source code, e-mail addresses and other data from Booz Allen and published it online on July 11. Still, the company does not expect "the cost of remediation and other activities directly associated with the attack" to "have a material affect on our financial results," said Ralph Shrader, Booz Allen's Chairman and CEO on a conference call with analysts. His remarks were posted in a transcript of the call on the SeekingAlpha website.

AntiSec, a group affiliated with the Anonymous umbrella organization, claimed credit for the Booz Allen hack. It published a list of 90,000 military e-mail addresses, apparently stolen from Booz Allen's systems, along with "hashed" passwords that could possibly be cracked by a determined attacker.

Groups affiliated with Anonymous have broken into a number of government contractors -- most notably a company called HB Gary Federal -- this year, looking to embarrass them and expose shady practices. According to emails stolen from HB Gary's servers, the company had been working on a proposal to manipulate social media with Booz Allen

On Tuesday Shrader said that the July hack affected Booz Allen's "government learning management system."

The company is "working very closely with our clients to understand the impact and mitigate any potential damage, and cooperating closely with law enforcement to prevent similar attacks in the future," Shrader said. Booz Allen counts the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Homeland security amongst its customers.

In a question and answer session toward the end of the call, Shrader said that, although Anonymous has been under the radar until recently, recent attacks on law enforcement agencies have "finally got people's attention."

Anonymous "is really not a group of kids out there that are playing video games," he said. "It's now something that has serious impact on [the] health, safety and welfare of all of us."

Last month, EMC, the parent company of RSA Security, reported a recent cyber attack on its systems is will cost it $66 million.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com


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