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Negotiating with Anonymous: Symantec talks collapse, source code released

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Arturo Rodriguez/AP/File

(Read caption) People wearing masks often used by a group that calls itself Anonymous take part in a rally in Madrid on May 15. On Tuesday afternoon, the "hacktivist" network Anonymous published the source code to security software vendor Symantec's pcAnywhere program on torrent sites, apparently after negotiations to the tune of $50,000 fell through.

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Looks like the hackers win this round.

On Tuesday afternoon, the "hacktivist" network Anonymous published the source code to security software vendor Symantec's pcAnywhere program on torrent sites, apparently after negotiations to the tune of $50,000 fell through. Anonymous posted emails earlier this week detailing the negotiations, which took place between "Yamatough," an online personality representing an Anonymous-affiliated group, and either a Symantec employee or a law enforcement sting operation (it depends on who you ask).

According to the emails, Symantec offered Yamatough $50,000 in exchange for the destruction of the source code and a public statement saying that Symantec hadn't been hacked in the first place. Negotiations broke down when Yamatough demanded the money be sent through Liberty Reserve, an offshore account, and accused Symantec of cooperating with the FBI. Symantec asked for more time to negotiate and asked to send the money in small chunks, but the email exchange broke off after Yamatough gave the company ten minutes to "decide which way you go."

The alleged hack happened way back in 2006, but the issue didn't surface until last month. When Anonymous threatened to release the code in late January, Symantec initially asked users to stop using pcAnywhere, fearing that known vulnerabilities might be exploited. A few days later, it released patches for affected version that plugged the security holes.

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