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Mar 18, 2011

Sockpuppets and screengrabs make for more fun for Anonymous

It pays to be careful what you allow to be filmed in an interview if you want to remain secret.


Earlier in the week we noted that the Guardian’s David Leigh, whose initial enthusiasm for and then bitter falling out with Julian Assange and Wikileaks is chronicled, like a lover’s diary entries, in his Twitter account, had suggested Bradley Manning would now be free if he’d come to Leigh. Manning’s error, apparently, had been to go to “Wikileaks donor Adrian Lamo” rather than an old mainstream media hand like Leigh.

The subsequent elevation of Leigh into an internet meme didn’t amuse the veteran journalist, who started patronising “the kids” mocking him.

Leigh had further adventures overnight. He tweeted the link to a new Guardian story on sock puppet software being developed by the US military. The story was fine as far as it went, except neither The Guardian nor Leigh revealed that the precise story had been broken several weeks ago by the Raw Story website‘s Stephen C. Webster.

But the Guardian had missed that there was a breaking story on sock puppet software (Crikey covered the issue in our piece on cyber wars a couple of weeks ago), because Anonymous discovered an IP patent for sock puppet software, arising out of the HB Gary Federal emails cracked by the group earlier this year, and yesterday put together a package of material on the “weaponizing” of sock puppet software by the US military to influence social media debate and obtain private information.

And speaking of Adrian Lamo, which we weren’t, really, Lamo was recently interviewed by Al Jazeera in what might best be called a state that was a tribute to the US pharmaceutical industry. Lamo only agreed to be interviewed by Monica Villamizar on the basis that “I won’t give you an address of where I live, and all driving directions must be over the phone, nothing can be written in a computer” because he now, says Villamizar, “lives in secret”.

The only problem was, Lamo allowed Al Jazeera to film him working at a computer, and there’s a nice, clear shot of his screen at 1.51. Someone, who possibly shall remain Anonymous, used the port number on Lamo’s screen to track down where he was working from at the time.

Not the best security from a former hacker who turned Manning over to US authorities for what appears to be a deliberate program of degrading punishment and who is, accordingly, not the most popular person on the internet.


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3 thoughts on “Sockpuppets and screengrabs make for more fun for Anonymous

  1. Liamj

    Lamo is just there for looks, it is his Wired.com handler that really shopped Manning. Wired and the NYT have betrayed the Wikileaks cause every time they’ve had the chance, and the Guardian has behaved only very slightly better. Ditto Visa and Paypal, it has been educational to see just how joined-up/”on message”/unified the interests of money and power are.

  2. Guest

    I’m wondering if Lamo dobbed Manning in for a reward.

  3. Chris Murphy

    It was not a port number but an IP address!


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