What companies are Anonymous targeting? See their answers

In addition to Russian organizations, Anonymous says it is currently targeting some Western companies.

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The hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has said it has a new target in its “cyber war” against Russia – Western companies still doing business there.

March 21st post. Twitter account @YourAnonTV says: “We call on all companies that continue to operate in Russia, paying taxes to the budget of the Kremlin’s criminal regime: get out of Russia!”

The tweet, which was liked over 23,000 times, gave companies 48 hours to comply.

The threat that came later echoed on other Anonymous-affiliated Twitter accounts.included photos with logos of about 40 companies, including such famous names as Burger King, Subway and General Mills.

Other companies were later tagged in the account, allegedly notifying them that they, too, could soon be targeted.

Wrong targeting?

The three targeted oilfield services companies are − Halliburton, Baker Hughes as well as Schlumberger — have also already published announcements about their commercial activities in Russia. Statements followed article in the Washington Post which implored readers to stop investing in companies deemed to be “funding Putin’s war.”

Intentional or “fog of war”?

The second group of target companies

Many companies that received an “F” on the Yale list appeared on the list. second anonymous tweet posted March 24. This post is aimed at a new – and seemingly updated – list of companies that includes Emirates Airline, French gardening store Leroy Merlin and essential oil company Young Living.

Several companies targeted by Anonymous soon announced they were breaking off relations with Russia, including a Canadian oilfield services company. Calfrac Well Services and manufacturer of sanitary products Geberit Group – the latter includes hashtags for Anonymous and Yale in his Twitter ad.

French sporting goods company Decathlon announced this week that it is also closing stores in Russia. But Anonymous has already claimed responsibility for shutting down its Russian website, as well as those of Leroy Merlin and French supermarket Auchan.

Jeremy Fowler, co-founder of cybersecurity company Security Discovery, said his research showed that Anonymous had also successfully hacked a database owned by Leroy Merlin.

“I am absolutely sure [Anonymous] found it,” he said, stating that the collective left messages and links inside the data.

Anonymous also stated last week that hacked into the database of another target company, the Swiss food and beverage corporation Nestle.. However, Nestle told CNBC that the claims “have no basis in fact.” Website about design and technology Gizmodo reported that Nestle said it accidentally leaked its own information in February.

Since then, Nestle has announced reduces its operations in Russia, but the measures were dismissed as insufficient at least one anonymous online account.

Other powers in the game

It is not clear if the threats from Anonymous influenced any corporate decisions to stop operations in Russia.

In fact, other forces have been at play as well, including online calls to boycott some of the targeted corporations in recent weeks.

Activists hold a protest against Koch Industries on June 5, 2014 in New York City. The American conglomerate was one of the few companies targeted by both posts on the @YourAnonTV Twitter account. The company also received an “F” on Yale’s list for failing to move its business operations out of Russia.

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After the Anonymous attack on the French car manufacturer Renault announced the suspension of activities at one of the Moscow factories. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly singled out Renault, as well as Nestle, during televised addresses to European governments and citizens.

A spokesman for Renault told CNBC that the decision had nothing to do with Anonymous.

Other companies have put forward moral arguments in favor of continuing to operate in Russia. Auchan, in a press release released this weeksaid that the Russians “are not personally responsible for starting this war. We didn’t make the choice to abandon our employees, their families and our customers.”

Another complication: franchises

Unlike McDonalds, which owns about 84% of its outlets in Russia, companies such as Burger King, Subway and Papa John’s often operate here under franchise agreements. Burger King said it asked its main franchise operator to suspend restaurants in Russia, but “they refused.”

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Force majeure clauses, which allow parties to terminate a contract due to circumstances such as natural disasters or acts of terrorism, do not apply here, Antel said. There are also no provisions regarding sanctions, he said, which, if present, usually apply only if the sanctions apply to the parties to the contract, and not to the country in which they are located.

Antel said that franchisors probably do not have the legal right to close franchises in Russia. But he said he expects franchisors to do so anyway for a variety of reasons: moral decisions to mitigate reputational damage and avoid sanctions compliance costs, especially since Russia “doesn’t make up a large percentage of sales” for most of these companies. .

“Concerns about hackers and data protection … can also be a big reason,” he said.

He suspects that franchisors will negotiate agreements to “share the pain,” either by agreeing to temporarily stop operations or through settlement fees to end the relationship, he said.

He said he entered into one contract — out of hundreds — under which a hotel owner in Russia wanted a contractual right to leave if an international incident harmed his broader business interests.

“God, we had to fight for this,” Antel said.

However, he said he now expects contract exit options to become much more common in the future.

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