Sep. 27—Nearly 200 Maine residents were affected by a massive data breach this month when hackers published personal and financial information of users of a web company popular with far-right fringe groups.
A notice filed with the Maine Attorney General's Office last week confirmed that 190 Mainers were among the 110,000 people affected nationwide in the hack of Epik, a company based in Washington.
The hack occurred on Sept. 13, but the company didn't notify users until two days later. The information seized by Anonymous, an internet hacking collective, includes several years' worth of data, including credit card information, email addresses and web domain transactions.
The notice filed with the AG's office does not include any identifying information about Maine residents who were affected. Maine law requires that all data breaches be posted publicly, but only breaches that affect at least 1,000 people are shared with consumer reporting agencies.
Epik, in a statement to customers, said it will investigate and cooperate with "relevant authorities and other stakeholders as well." Affected customers also have been offered free identity theft protection services.
Epik has a broad customer base but has come under fire recently for its connections to hate groups, including the Proud Boys, and for catering to those who have been banned by other social media sites. Some customers have been outed as operators of websites that supported the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Heidi Beirich, a veteran researcher of hate and extremism, told the Washington Post that the Epik data set, "is like somebody has just handed you all the detective work — the names, the people behind the accounts."
"This is like the mother of all data lodes because Epik was at the center of so many of the extremist websites and organizations that people like me study. Epik was the place of last refuge for a lot of these sites," said Beirich, co-founder of the nonprofit Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. "And as the data is analyzed and looked at more deeply, we're going to see this ecosystem in a way that was simply not possible before."