Hackers, Cyber War, and Faux Heroes

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The group calling itself, Anonymous, recently hacked Stratfor, a  corporation specializing in strategic intelligence analysis.  The hackers made off with 90,000 credit card numbers and the personal identity information belonging to people who pay for Stratfor’s highly regarded work.  George Friedman owns Stratfor.

To make matters worse, hackers claiming affiliation with Anonymous have threatened retaliation against victims of the theft who are speaking to the media or protesting the action of Anonymous on Facebook.  Anonymous says it will spray the personal information of these people all over the internet.  Furthermore, the hackers say they will steal $1 million and donate the money to various charities.

The age of the Faux Hero is upon us.  To many here in America, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Anonymous are heroes.  A similar ethos can be detected in the ranks of Occupy Wallstreet; a mere instinct of rebellion, anarchy, arrogance and envy.  Many who idolize Assange and Manning believe quite deeply in a world of black helicopters, Twin Towers immolated by Bush administration zealots, and Federal Reserve connections to the Bavarian Illuminati.

Essentially, the above noted micreants and OWS are considered by some to be revolutionaries fighting against the New World Order.  As with the Jacobins in the French Revolution, those taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement emphasize the “right to eat” over the right of merchants to earn money.  Also mimicking the French Revolution is the utilization and exploitation of the underclass in order to solidify political power.

In a previous post I compared Assange to Robespierre.  The Anonymous group dons the Guy Fawkes mask as its mascot.  Interestingly, Fawkes could be considered somewhat of a right-wing religious zealot, something I’m sure most in Anonymous would be averse to.

Bradley Manning, a troubled soldier who hated the Army, violated the oath he took and motivated by spite, launched thousands of classified documents into the greedy hands of Bill Maher’s IT clone, Julian Assange.  The argument that everyone has a right to this information is absurd.  The information is not legislation, but in many cases communication between individuals that contains the names of people who would be endangered if revealed.  Releasing this information also provides our enemies with clues to our military’s intentions.  George Washington would not have revealed his plans at Valley Forge in the name of transparency and Operation Overlord was one of the most secretive undertakings in history.  Anyone releasing the Plans to Overlord would have spent a very large amount of time in prison.

I recently completed a college class titled Cyber Warfare.  For those not familiar with the concept, cyber warfare is defined as the use of computers, digital mediums, and the internet for the purposes of damaging, stealing, or disrupting the critical infrastructure, banking systems or military of a state.  While doing research for the class, my computer became infected with malware from sites critical of Vladimir Putin and more recently, my personal information and email address were stolen from Stratfor’s data base by the loose conglomerate calling itself Anonymous.  Fortunately, I do not pay for Stratfor’s services, so Anonymous was not able to get any of my banking or credit card information.  I have been receiving emails that are clearly from malicious actors who obtained my email address from the public forums on which Anonymous posted tens of thousands such addresses.

Personally, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if one of Anonymous’ hackers got liquefied in a drone strike.  At the very least I would like to see many of these hackers’ computers destroyed in a cyber counter strike.  It’s only fitting.  But the fact that Anonymous and other organizations hide under a veil of false heroism, a myth of modern day Robin Hood pilfering will probably keep such criminals, malcontents and sociopaths in business for a while.

Still, I can hope that the last thing some of these idiots hear is the dull buzz of a Reaper drone.

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3 thoughts on “Hackers, Cyber War, and Faux Heroes

    Royce said:
    January 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I share your feellings regarding Assange, Manning, and Annonymous. During the dot com bubble I was fruitlessly struggling to bring some adult supervision to a whole gaggle of these people who sympathize with Assange, Manning, and Annonymous. These are people who believe that everything should be free, that those who create must create for everyone and have no private ownership rights. They do not seem to grasp that their salaries come from PROFITS. They recognize no authority especially government and military. None of them — at least in my personal experience — ever had any association with the military or were ever subjected to any sort of restricition. Drug use was rampant and any hint of drug testing was viewed as an invasion of personal privacy. Supervising these people was virtually impossible because they could never coalesce around any common goal other than it was fun hacking into other people’s computers and working when they felt like it. I don’t think any of my staff were involved in criminal activity other than drug use which I could not control, but it is worth noting that much like Manning many later turned out to be homosexual and alienated from society. I have not been a big supporter of the draft but I sincerely think that many if not most of these people need the discipline and training that would come from the military. But currently within the technical community there is a culture of anti-government, anti-American, anti-capitalism, and a commitment to anarchy that is widespread. These are the people who are behind Annonymous and who view Manning and Assange as heroes.

    You mentioned George Washington — remember that he reluctantly hung Major Andre for spying and carrying secret plans to the British. Frankly if I were on Manning’s court martial I would have him shot.

    Bill said:
    March 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Doug – I pretty much always agree with your posts and agree for the most part here. I guess it’s more of a nuanced difference than a disagreement. A while back, I posted an article called the Hacking of DB.Singles.org. In a nutshell, a Christian dating site had the most insane security flaw I’ve ever seen (it was beyond shameful). the exploit was discovered and posted on 4chan (home of Anonymous). I was on the site as it was unfolding. To make matters worse, when you got to someone else’s page, you saw the email they used to register and the password they used in plaintext. Since most people reuse passwords, in about 2 minutes you could access over 90% of the people’s personal emails. Since people reuse passwords they could then access Facebook, paypal and bank accounts, which they did. I got caught int he middle b/c I wrote a quick program to get everyone’s information and I sent out a warning to all of the members. I was a little too fast for my own good and being in a hurry, I used my personal email which had my name and phone number in it. As other members of Anon got into the accounts, they saw my warnings and they started threatening me. I got several death threats. They used some people search sites to find my address and home number and started calling my wife. THey called my office (another instructive lesson other than not reusing passwords) and just let hell loose. Keep in mind though, that I was one of 5 people that tried to warn the victims (all of us active members of the 4chan community, all of us essentially members of “Anonymous”. Many more were in the process of warning the victims when they saw the posts about “White Knights’. within 72 hours, my parents (who’ve been divorced for over 30 years at the time) were getting threats. “Tell your White Knight son to cut the bullish*t OR YOU’RE GOING TO PAY FOR IT.” So I had my wife, my mom, dad and boss all breathing down my neck over it.

    What happened next was more interesting. I got an email basically offering a peace treaty. The head of the people leading the jihad against me and the other ‘white knights’ said he’d call off the war against me but I had to write an article about him. He knew at the time I was a fairly high profile writer, and If I agreed to write an article about him, he’d call things off. I had to go through the most intense cloak and dagger routine to talk to him but when I did, it was instructive. He wanted me to emphasize that his group “Davids” were just in it for the LULZ. They didn’t steal any money from people’s accounts, they didn’t even post Pr0n on people’s Facebook pages. And they didn’t do any of the ‘confessions’ to the police or loved ones that caused so much trouble. On the other hand was the “Yuris” who he said were mainly russian and north korean. He wanted it clear they were the ones stealing all the money. He also claimed that – he needed to get my attention b/c I was ignoring him- that’s why things escalated – but that by exposing information about the financial crimes, i was messing with people that would definitely kill me or my family and that I had no idea who they were. He claimed, he was doing it for my benefit and in some f*cked up way I believe him. I called him on some of it and he was willing to prove much of what he was saying – to the extent he could without giving me any hook into who he was.

    4chan is one of the most popular sites most people have never heard of. Anon is a big group of people. I believe at any given time, there are some 40k users. Remember when they hit Sarah Palin’s email – it was one person and a handful of others, but there were several white knights then who went in and changed her password to prevent further damage. Much of anon are just average ordinary people. Most of us never really outgrew adolescence and range on a scale of how much trouble they like to cause. The vast majority draw the line at anything that hurts other people. For every member that would illegally access someone’s information, there’s a member that would be quick to stop them.

    I know I just went around the world but I think it’s illustrative. Anonymous isn’t a group of people you can name. There are tens of thousands of anions. If you had an Op that involved breaking into someone’s account or stealing information, there are probably less than 20-50 (out of tens of thousands) that would partake. If you’re talking about protesting Scientology sites, you’ll end up with thousands. I know in some ways I’m making the same point many Muslims do about Radiical Islam (only a few of us are the bad seeds, so why label us all with it) but there’s a pretty profound difference, those of us opposed to illegal/immoral acts are quite vocal in our condemnation and work against it. There’s no standard sides, things differ by issue, but if you browse /b/ someday, you’ll see how divergent it is. And you’ll see how vocal many are about things like the Stratfor dump. Even within Anon, many think Manning is a hero and Lamo satan, many view Manning as a traitor and Lamo heroic, and everywhere in between.

    LulzSec (the group behind Stratfor and quite a few others) are a different breed. Thruth be told, hacking is pretty hard (and in MANY of the cases, it’s more a result of getting someone inside the org to divulge information than anything you see on TV). As hard as hacking is, hacking without leaving a trail right up to your door for the NSA and Secret Service to follow is even harder. Anon for the most part is a really large group of people having fun. THere’s a really small group of elite hackers that get much of the attention, and there’s a large group of dupes, who have very little technical proficiency that get goaded into doing the bidding of others and being the fall guys.

    All in all – the real problem makers in Anon are a really small portion – that’s not to say anything in your article is wrong – to the extent you’re speaking of specific individuals i couldn’t agree more. But there’s bad apples in every group no?

    magus71 responded:
    March 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Bill,

    Absolutely. I’ve made the same point about al-Qaeda that anyone can say they’re a member of al-Qaeda. Anyone can say they’re conducting jihad. Their is no official membership card. In both cases (Anonymous et al), people get a charge out of having power over people.

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