Mar 4, 2011

Anonymous versus the arms dealers of the cyber war

Corporate America has an array of weapons to deploy against those who want to subject it to greater accountability.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Some time back I suggested the online “group” Anonymous was worth keeping an eye on. This suggestion was subsequently vindicated by the remarkable HB Gary saga involving cyber security consultant Aaron Barr who, to use Stephen Colbert’s now-famous description, stuck his penis into a hornet’s nest when he declared he was going to “out” senior members of Anonymous.

The subsequent crack of his company’s entire network was facilitated by some remarkably elementary mistakes by Barr in his own cyber security — so elementary that some speculate the entire exercise was an elaborate  honey trap, particularly given Barr’s company had done work both on defending against honey traps and using them. If it was an elaborate plot, however, it’s exacted one helluva toll on the perpetrators — Barr, in an utterly unexpected development, has since parted ways with HB Gary Federal. But though Barr is gone, his emails live on after him, and continue to embroil a growing circle of companies.

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7 thoughts on “Anonymous versus the arms dealers of the cyber war

  1. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    BK you bring me to shoot my load of love and affection in your direction with the excitement stimulated by your ripper article.

    My personal experience, disbelieved by almost all whom I care about much less used to seriously abuse me by a mix of advantage seeking strangers and media, involves awful deceitful behaviour that goes all the way to serious criminality in order to disgrace me professionally by the power heads of my beloved medical profession conspiratorially arranged with their dancing partners the heads of powerful government departments.
    I know the heartache dispatched by career ruining mortar fire and the grief of hard earned innocent talent betrayed by the revered turned lying accusers as well as the fabulous thrill of evidence against them falling into my lap as guilt ridding confessions from the so cleverly used and abused bit players of their crimes.

    So your article stimulates uncontrollably as I contemplate ‘mediwiki’, Lithuanian for ‘Medileaks’ – how they kill you (patients) and don’t mind a bit.

  2. Pete

    Another top article from you, Mr Keane. Thanks.

  3. mattsui

    Thank, Crikey and BK.
    I clicked through to Shield Security’s (very impressive) homepage, only to realise -too late!- that, assuming their espionage is a good as you say, they now know my ip address and approximate geographical location.
    Paranioa much??

  4. Pete

    And given it’s Flash, you probably have some LSO Cookie now buried in your browser/flash player that’ll take non-standard tools to clean.

  5. zebbidie

    I don’t think it was Anonymous that revealed the no-bid clause. Ed, the political scientist at Gin & Tacos discovered this on 21st February by…reading the bill. No journalist in the entirety of the American media had thought to do so.


  6. AR

    Daily Kos as well as George Monbiot in the Grauniad have also pointed out that trolling and spamming is well financed & organised – inter alia rather than have a link upset the Modbot
    – companies now use “persona management software”, which multiplies the efforts of the astroturfers working for them, creating the impression that there’s major support for what a corporation or government is trying to do.

    – this software creates all the online furniture a real person would possess: a name, email accounts, web pages and social media. In other words, it automatically generates what look like authentic profiles, making it hard to tell the difference between a virtual robot and a real commentator.

    – fake accounts can be kept updated by automatically re-posting or linking to content generated elsewhere, reinforcing the impression that the account holders are real and active.

    – human astroturfers can then be assigned these “pre-aged” accounts to create a back story, suggesting that they’ve been busy linking and re-tweeting for months. No one would suspect that they came onto the scene for the first time a moment ago, for the sole purpose of attacking an article on climate science or arguing against new controls on salt in junk food.

    – with some clever use of social media, astroturfers can, in the security firm’s words, “make it appear as if a persona was actually at a conference and introduce himself/herself to key individuals as part of the exercise … There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas”

  7. Liamj

    Good wrap Mr Keane, and yes, Anonymous are definately worth watching. I just hope they give us a breather, time to absorb what we’ve just learnt about sockpuppeting for example. Up to 50 ‘personalities’ per operator is apparently possible, how many do you think the coal industry has in this country? How about on this website? Are they administered via the usual astroturf front groups, or as standalone startups offering ‘bespoke’ operations? A misinformed and manipulated democracy needs to know!

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