The leak -- aka data dox -- was perpetrated by the Exposed website as part of its "Secret Files" campaign. Launched last month, the website has revealed information about numerous celebrities and political figures, including first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI director Robert Mueller, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) chief Charlie Beck. The Exposed website was viewed more than half a million times before apparently being knocked offline.
In the wake of that campaign, the FBI, Secret Service and Los Angeles Police Department all announced that they'd launched related investigations. By late March, meanwhile, the Exposed website was offline.
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As of Thursday, however, the site resurfaced, courtesy of a domain name shift from Exposed.su -- the top-level domain for the Soviet Union -- to Exposed.re, which is the top-level domain for the French Réunion island, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar. According to a website counter, as of Thursday morning Exposed.re had been viewed more than 770,000 times, and received over 120 Facebook "likes."
The site now includes personal information and credit reports for more than 40 people, including CIA director John Brennan, U.S. Marshalls director Stacia Hylton, former president George W. Bush, and Secret Service director Pierson. For Pierson, it has a TransUnion-labeled credit report detailing her credit cards, mortgages, student loans and car leases. Information for numerous celebrities, including George Clooney, Bill Gates, Robert De Niro, Lady Gaga, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anderson Cooper and Oprah Winfrey has also been posted.
The new Exposed website also linked to two recent news reports that Paris Hilton and P. Diddy (aka Sean J Combs) had separately been "swatted," which refers to the illegal practice of sending a prank call to police and reporting a serious but fake crime, with the intent to have the police department dispatch police officers to the target's house.
Was the information published by Exposed used to perpetrate the swatting pranks? The Hilton swat reportedly led to the LAPD being dispatched to her home, and the Exposed site lists multiple addresses for her in the Los Angeles area. In the case of P. Diddy, meanwhile, TMZ reported that police responded to a report that someone had been shot inside his Los Angeles home. But the Exposed website only lists addresses for P. Diddy in Georgia, Florida and New York, hence the site doesn't appear to have been the source of his L.A. address.
Regardless, whoever is behind the Exposed site is apparently still able to access people's credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a service used by 16 million people each year to obtain a free copy of their credit report. The three credit reporting agencies that maintain the site -- as they're required to do by federal law -- last month said their site was the source of the leaks of personally identifiable information (PII).
How exactly did the Exposed gang access the information? After Exposed first debuted just over three weeks ago, a spokesman for Equifax told Forbes that "our initial investigation shows the perpetrators had the PII of the individuals whose files were accessed and were therefore able to pass the required authentication measures in place."
Press contacts for Equifax, Experian and TransUnion didn't immediately respond to requests for comment -- emailed Thursday, before normal working hours -- about whether they were aware of the Exposed website relaunch, what security changes they put in place as a result of last month's doxing campaign, or why the Exposed gang was still able to inappropriately access people's credit records and other PII.
But whatever new authentication measures -- or security defenses -- the credit reporting agencies may have adopted in the wake of the first wave of Exposed doxing, they don't appear to be strong enough to keep attackers, pranksters or fraudsters at bay.