An obscure cybersecurity firm from Sacramento has been swept up in a bizarre scandal involving an affiliated company and an alleged plot to discredit liberal critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As the controversy intensified, the Sacramento company abruptly withdrew from a high-profile cybersecurity convention being held this week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The conference ends today.
The company, HBGary Inc., pulled out because employees "have received numerous threats of violence, including threats at our trade show booth," according to a statement posted on its website.
The controversy involves an affiliated company called HBGary Federal Inc., which has offices in Colorado and Washington, D.C.
According to e-mails obtained by the hacker group Anonymous and posted by ThinkProgress.org, a left-leaning group, HBGary Federal was crafting a disinformation campaign to undermine such liberal organizations as the Service Employees International Union and Change to Win, a coalition of labor unions.
Numerous reports say the campaign was to include cyber-attacks, creation of false personas on social media websites and intelligence gathering. Published and online reports said HBGary Federal was teaming with two other security firms to pitch the idea to a law firm that works for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber and the other two firms have issued statements distancing themselves from HBGary, with the Chamber saying it wasn't aware of the plan.
The hacker group, Anonymous, obtained some 40,000 of HBGary Federal's e-mails and another 27,000 e-mails from the Sacramento company, HBGary, according to a report on Forbes magazine's website.
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