Members of an online hacking group that calls itself SwaggSec say they hacked systems belonging to Chinese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn and made off with login credentials belonging to some of the company’s biggest clients. Foxconn has declined to comment.
The incident comes in the wake of investigations of practices at Foxconn and other third party suppliers that make the components and assemble popular products like the iPhone and iPad. Among other things, the hackers exposed information that may have allowed outsiders to place fraudulent orders in the name of some of Foxconn’s major customers. A copy of the stolen data was posted on the illegal file sharing website PirateBay.
Foxconn did not reply to e-mail and phone requests for comment prior to publication. The company has been the subject of highly critical reports in the New York Times, BBC and elsewhere over mistreatment of workers in factories that make the iPhone and iPad, including unsafe working conditions, long work days and a disregard for worker welfare.
In a statement claiming responsibility for the hack posted on the Web site Pastebin, the heretofore unknown group SwaggSec said that the attack wasn’t in retaliation for reports of worker mistreatment, but merely because “we enjoy exposing governments and corporations.” The group distinguished itself from self described “hacktivists,” claiming that they are “grey hat” hackers – somewhere in between malicious and lawful – whose main interests lie in “hacking infrastructure.”
SwaggSec claims to have bypassed Foxconn’s firewall in order to gain access to their network, but does not provide details on how it breached the company’s defenses or how extensive the group’s access to FoxConn’s network was.
This is just the latest incident in which prominent firms have seen lawsuits or damaging reports in the media lead to subsequent hacks. Notably, electronics giant Sony Corp. found itself the target of LulzSec, a spin-off of the group Anonymous, after it pursued legal action against George Hotz, a teen-aged hacker and electronics whiz who hacked Sony’s Playstation 3 (PS3) platform, allowing users to play pirated and unlicensed content on it. Paypal, Visa and other online payments firms were likewise targeted with denial of service and hacking attacks after they banned payments to the whistle blower site Wikileaks using their payment networks.