Hackers with the group Anonymous have apparently chosen computer gaming vendor Zynga and social networking powerhouse Facebook as the latest targets of a campaign that aims to reel in the power and wealth of the companies.
In a Nov. 5 post on the AnonNews Website, the group says it is taking the actions because of recent developments at Zynga, including the reported layoffs of some workers.
"Anonymous OP maZYNGA—phase 1—started now," the group reported in the statement. "We did launch phase 1 of operation maZYNGA with release of the confidential documents leaked from the executives of Zynga. On November the fifth we will release the key to the data files. Remember, Remember the 5TH of November."
The planned actions are being taken on behalf of Zynga customers and Facebook users to target Zynga "for the outrageous treatment of their employees and their actions against many developers," the statement said. "We have come to believe that this actions [sic] of Zynga will result in massive layoff of a thousand people and legal actions against everyone that speaks to the public about this plan. It will also come to end of the US game market as we know it as all this jobs will be replaced in other more convenient financial countries."
To counter Zynga's alleged behavior, Anonymous said it will now start to release confidential documents they have captured outlining Zynga's plans.
"With a billion dollars cash sitting in a bank we do believe that such actions are an insult to the population and the behaviour of corporations like Zynga must change (sic)," according to Anonymous' statement. "As we speak we are planning to release also all the games we've taken from their servers for free."
If Zynga wishes to halt the hacker group's actions against them, the statement continued, then Zynga must retreat from its plans for employee layoffs. "That being said, we will stop the idea of the distribution of such games if Zynga will cease immediately the plan."
According to AnonNews, Zynga's future corporate plans, which were allegedly captured in writing by Anonymous, call for completely outsourcing development teams in Bangalore, India, a step that Anonymous says will hurt employees.
Other Websites that have also been threatened by Anonymous starting Nov. 5 include PayPal, Symantec and NBC, according to a report from PC Magazine. On Nov. 4, "several Anonymous-related Twitter feeds tweeted: 'Paypal hacked by Anonymous as part of our November 5th protest,'" according to the story.
In response, Anuj Nayarm, PayPal's head of PR, tweeted that the company is investigating, but has thus far "been unable to find any evidence that validates this claim," the story reported.
In early October, hackers who claimed to be with Anonymous announced that they had stolen files from more than 100,000 accounts stored in poorly secured databases at high-profile international universities, but the claims were rebuffed by security experts.
The alleged theft was reported Oct. 1 by an offshoot of Anonymous, called Team GhostShell, which published a list on PasteBin of data archives allegedly stolen from major universities, such as Stanford University, Cambridge University, the University of Michigan, Tokyo University and the University of Zurich. The hackers claimed that they breached the servers to protest against the rising costs and declining standards of higher education.
Yet, for the most part, news of the breach was overblown, experts said. The hacking group claimed that the files included about 120,000 accounts, but in reality only a little more than 13,000 credentials—defined as a username with an associated password—were in the files, according to breach-monitoring service PwnedList, which scanned all the files as part of its service.