Tuesday, October 25, 2011
New Faction of Anonymous Targets Chinese Corporate Fraud in its First Report
Photo by: Anonymous Analytics
The computer hacking group “Anonymous,” has formed a new faction called Anonymous Analytics (Anonalytics for short) to target and expose corporate corruption. In its first report published in the last week of September, the group takes aim at a Chinese fruit and vegetable supplier allegedly involved in deceitful business practices. Interestingly, the government of Hong Kong announced that it was investigating the company on the same day Anonymous published the report. Was this a coincidence or an immediate victory for the group trying to improve corporate transparency?
Anonymous has achieved notoriety for executing a number of high profile cyber attacks against a wide range of targets including large corporations and government entities. While the group often has political or “hacktivist” motivations, its actions are not always so high-minded. Some Anonymous members have histories of defacing websites, stealing information, and executing other forms of digital hacks purely for the lulz or enjoyment, just because they can.
Anonalytics presents a face quite different from other Anonymous efforts - one of legitimacy focused on promoting access to information and transparency. Notably, the group staffed by analysts, forensic accountants, statisticians, computer experts, and lawyers, claims to use legal means to acquire information, which it fact-checks and vets prior to release.
The group focused its first publication on Chaoda Modern Agriculture, a company widely reported to have a history of fraud and deceiving shareholders and investors. The 38-page report (including full disclaimer) details a range of evidence showing fraudulent practices including the falsification of financial statements, operation through bogus companies, and illegitimate branding and promotion.
In addition to its claims and analysis of corporate fraud, the group also calls the Honk Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) and Securities and Futures Commission into question for allowing Chaoda to operate unhindered for over 11 years. Coincidentally, HKEX’s Market Misconduct Tribunal and a Hong Kong government spokesperson released statements that they were investigating Chaoda and suspended the company from trading on the same day Anonalytics published its report. Chaoda’s stock has since plummeted and the company has hired DLA Piper to take legal action against the report.
Anonalytics admits that Chaoda presented an easy target for its first project. Regardless, its first report did not go unnoticed. It remains to be seen whether the group’s future investigations will directly influence major government action but Anonalytics certainly provides businesses with extra incentive to fly right and operate transparently.
Big businesses will likely take note of Anonalytic’s investigations and closely watch the group’s future activities. Will big businesses and regulators take measures to improve corporate transparency as a result of this new Anonymous faction? Does the forming of Anonylitics signal an evolution in Anonymous operations? It will be interesting to watch this developing situation and gauge the potential for effecting a significant change in corporate transparency.
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