Cyber activists associated with Anonymous have denied executing a hack and extract operation against Stratfor, a US-based security think tank.
The hackers - who may be linked to Sabu of LulzSec fame - managed to steal Stratfor's confidential client list and mined over 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.
"The Stratfor hack is not the work of Anonymous. Stratfor is an open source intelligence agency, publishing daily reports on data collected from the open Internet. Hackers claiming to be Anonymous have distorted this truth in order to further their hidden agenda, and some Anons have taken the bait," the group claimed in an online communiqué.
"The leaked client list represents subscribers to a daily publication which is the primary service of Stratfor. Stratfor analysts are widely considered to be extremely unbiased. Anonymous does not attack media sources."
According to Anonymous, Stratfor has been deliberately misrepresented by "these so-called Anons" and portrayed in false light as a company which engages in activity similar to HBGary.
"Sabu and his crew are nothing more than opportunistic attention whores who are possibly agent provocateurs... As a media source, Stratfor's work is protected by the freedom of press, a principle which Anonymous values greatly. This hack is most definitely not the work of Anonymous," the group added.
For its part, Stratfor confirmed the above-mentioned hack and extract operation by issuing the following statement:
"On December 24th an unauthorized party disclosed personally identifiable information and related credit card data of some of our members. We have reason to believe that your personal and credit card data could have been included in the information that was illegally obtained and disclosed.
"Also publicly released was a list of our members which the unauthorized party claimed to be Stratfor's 'private clients.' Contrary to this assertion the disclosure was merely a list of some of the members that have purchased our publications and does not comprise a list of individuals or entities that have a relationship with Stratfor beyond their purchase of our subscription-based publications.
"We are also working to restore access to our website and continuing to work closely with law enforcement regarding these matters. We will continue to update you regarding the status of these matters."