Quinn Norton has an excellent piece over at Wired:Threat Level on the reactions within "Anonymous" to the news that LulzSec frontman "Sabu" (photo above) was collaborating with the FBI. Kim Zetter's take on the arrests and secret plea deals is here.
The Guardian has more on the big hacking news which Fox News broke yesterday (as noted in a post by Rob). "Sabu," the trash-talking, self-appointed leader of LulzSec, has been working for the FBI for the last six months. The FBI says he helped the US and various European governments identify and arrest five alleged LulzSec members charged with participating in defacement, DDOSing, and "doxing" against high-profile government and corporate targets. Sabu (above) is, in now identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur, a 28-year-old unemployed Puerto Rican guy living in New York, and a father of two. He was charged with 12 criminal counts of conspiracy to engage in "computer hacking and other crimes" last year, pled guilty in August, 2011, then "snitched" on his LulzSec friends.
Here's the FBI news release, which notably omits the names of any prosecutors (perhaps for fear of Anonymous attack).
Snip from Guardian story:
His online "hacker" activity continued until very recently, with a tweet sent by him in the last 24 hours saying: "The feds at this moment are scouring our lives without warrants. Without judges approval. This needs to change. Asap."
In a US court document, the FBI's informant – there described as CW – "acting under the direction of the FBI" helped facilitate the publication of what was thought to be an embarrassing leak of conference call between the FBI and the UK's Serious and Organised Crime Agency in February. Officers from both sides of the Atlantic were heard discussing the progress of various hacking investigations in the call.
A second document shows that Monsegur – styled this time as CW-1 – provided an FBI-owned computer to facilitate the release of 5m emails taken from US security consultancy Stratfor and which are now being published by WikiLeaks. That suggests the FBI may have had an inside track on discussions between Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and Anonymous, another hacking group, about the leaking of thousands of confidential emails and documents.
The indictments mark the most significant strike by law enforcement officials against the amateur hacker groups that have sprung out of Anonymous. These groups, which include LulzSec, have cost businesses millions of pounds and exposed the credit card details and passwords of nearly 1 million people.
Fox News' Jana Winter reports that LulzSec's Sabu was caught and turned by the authorities last June and has been working with them since. Other members of the group were arrested today as a result, she writes; details will be unsealed today in district court. The name given, Hector Xavier Monsegur, would confirm earlier outings and doxings from the same period. Last June saw the group publicly suspend operations, if you'll recall, and suffer its earliest arrests.
Spanish police also accused one of four suspects picked up in the cities of Madrid and Malaga of releasing personal data about police officers and bodyguards protecting Spain's royal family and the prime minister.
Other arrests were in Argentina, Chile and Colombia, and 250 items of computer equipment and mobile phones were seized across 15 cities, Interpol said. Colombia's Ministry of Defence and presidential websites as well as Chile's Endesa electricity company were among the targets of the hackers, it said.
In this YouTube video, someone in Anonymous garb has threatens a massive, embarrassing document dump for Vic Toews, the Canadian MP and Public Safety Minister whose domestic spying bill will require ISPs to log information on Canadians' Internet use and to turn that to police and appointed inspectors over without a warrant (and which immunizes ISPs from liability should they voluntarily turn over even more information, like the contents of email). The Anon demands that Toews retract his legislation.
Toews is a "family values" candidate who has consistently stood on a ticket that opposed gay marriage and espoused other supposedly conservative ideals, and he was publicly embarrassed when an anonymous Twitter user going by @Vikileaks30 tweeted choice quotes from the affidavits in Toews's messy divorce (which was precipitated by an affair with a much younger woman, whom Toews impregnated, and led to what his ex-wife described as an abandonment of his previous family). If there were further embarrassments of this nature in Toews's closet, it might alienate the voters who elected him on the basis of his "sanctity of the family" platform.
"All this legislation does is give your corrupted government more power to control its citizens," a synthesized voice says in one of the videos still posted to the site Monday.
"We know all about you, Mr. Toews, and during Operation White North we will release what we have unless you scrap this bill," it states.
The RCMP has been called in to investigate apparent death threats against Toews as controversy swirls around the legislation. Police said Monday they haven't yet decided whether a full investigation will be launched.
Alan Moore, writer of V for Vendetta and enigmatic wizard of comicology, describes the relationship between the Guy Fawkes mask and Anonymous, anti-ACTA protests, and the Occupy movement. Beginning with the Moore-ish phrase, "Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire, and the adoption of the V for Vendetta mask as a multipurpose icon by the emerging global protest movements is no exception," Moore goes on to semi-seriously condemn the ugly reality of post-capitalist winner-take-all economics and explain why V for Vendetta has found such fertile soil in this decade.
It also seems that our character's charismatic grin has provided a ready-made identity for these highly motivated protesters, one embodying resonances of anarchy, romance, and theatre that are clearly well-suited to contemporary activism, from Madrid's Indignados to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Neglect
Our present financial ethos no longer even resembles conventional capitalism, which at least implies a brutal Darwinian free-for-all, however one-sided and unfair. Instead, we have a situation where the banks seem to be an untouchable monarchy beyond the reach of governmental restraint, much like the profligate court of Charles I.
Then, a depraved neglect of the poor and the "squeezed middle" led inexorably to an unanticipated reaction in the horrific form of Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War which, as it happens, was bloodily concluded in Northamptonshire.
Today's response to similar oppressions seems to be one that is intelligent, constantly evolving and considerably more humane, and yet our character's borrowed Catholic revolutionary visage and his incongruously Puritan apparel are perhaps a reminder that unjust institutions may always be haunted by volatile 17th century spectres, even if today's uprisings are fuelled more by social networks than by gunpowder.
Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous (Thanks, Gawain Lavers!)
Here's some handy, infringealicious clip art for the discriminating Anon who wants to make a statement without paying a royalty: a Guy Fawkes mask, suitable for urban art, dress-up, and silkscreening.
Guy Fawkes Mask clip art (Thanks, @crisnoble!)
A group of Anons are about to dump a torrent 2.6GB of email containing "detailed records, transcripts, testimony, trial evidence, and legal defense donation records" about the Haditha massacre, in which 24 unarmed Iraqi men, women and children were killed by the USMC.
The announcement states that Anonymous stole 2.6 gigabytes of e-mail belonging to Puckett Faraj, a law firm that represents Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who is accused of leading the group of Marines in Haditha. The Web site of Puckett Faraj is not currently loading, and Gawker is reporting that the site was hacked.
A spokeswoman for Puckett Faraj confirmed that the Web site was down but said that she could not confirm or deny whether the site had been hacked.
MegaUpload raided, founder arrested; Anonymous launches mass DDoS against entertainment companies and US law enforcement
New Zealand police, responding from a request from the US government, raided MegaUpload today, arresting founder and CEO Kim ”Dotcom” Schmitz and three "associates." The service, which allowed users to upload files that were too big to email, claimed 150 million users. The entertainment industry alleged that the service was primarily intended to facilitate copyright infringement, since people could use it to illegally share music and movies, but the company claimed that while some users might infringe copyright with MegaUpload, others simply used it to share files that belonged to them. For example, I use a comparable service, YouSendIt, to exchange large MP3 files of my podcast with John Taylor Williams, the sound engineer who masters them. At other times, companies that wanted me to review their movies and music have uploaded them to a file locker and supplied me with the link and password to get them.
In response, a large denial-of-service attack ("OpMegaupload") has been launched against the US Department of Justice, the FBI, Universal Music and other entertainment and law-enforcement sites, by activists operating under the Anonymous banner.
MegaUpload has been waging an online campaign against Universal Music and US law enforcement and trade representatives, first releasing a video featuring famous artists singing an anthem in praise of MegaUpload, then suing Universal Music over false copyright claims that had the video removed from YouTube.
Quinn Norton has completed her triumphant history of Anonymous's actions in 2011 for Wired and this installment is amazing, containing real insight into how the world sees Anon, how Anon sees itself, and how those two mix. I was really taken with the following section, which reminds me a lot of Clay Shirky's idea that the pre-Internet world was one of "select, then publish" but that now we live in the world of "publish, then select":
The Freedom Ops are useful in explaining how Anonymous ops work. At any time on IRC there were ops for any number of countries, not just Middle Eastern ones. There were channels for Britain, Italy, Ireland, the USA, Venezuela, Brazil, and many more, as well as Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and most of the rest of the Middle East. Most of the ops had few participants, so those who were there linked to a press release or video about problems in that country with a bold call to action, but, for long stretches, nothing would happen.
That was OK; that is how Anonymous proposes ideas to itself. This reverses the order that the media was used to. In most of the world, the bold proclamation comes after the decision to act. In Anonymous, hyperbolic manifestos and calls to apocalyptic action show you want to talk about an issue. For many people reporting on Anonymous, it often looked like Anonymous was all bluster and no action.
But that’s the wrong way to look at it. For the lulzy hive mind, bluster can be the point itself. Other times, quieter, less dramatic actions would spring up and fill the channel, only for it to go quiet again when anons had moved on to another action. For the Freedom Ops, lying fallow was no shame, and dormant ops often sparked up in response to news events from the relevant region.
Quinn notes that this installment is "longer than the first two parts [part 1, part 2] put together, and only covers 2011-- a doozy of a year! ...I think 2012 may be an even crazier year with the hive mind."
(Photo: Quinn Norton)
Quinn Norton continues her excellent history of Anonymous for Wired, this time visiting the shift in the movement from pure transgression to political activism, and the way that this played out among Anons themselves:
Anonymous fundamentally produces two things: spectacle and infrastructure hacking. They create scenes the media often can’t resist, but they also tend to be ones that the media isn’t very good at understanding. The rest of the time they create or destroy online infrastructure, much of which never directly gets noticed. Op Payback & Assange combined the two, but were mainly spectacle. None of the attacks disrupted the function of the targeted entities for long, if at all, but that was missed by much of the media, who instead confused people into believing that they wouldn’t be able to use their Visa or MasterCards to buy gas or groceries, thanks to Anonymous.
Intelligence and security research group Stratfor was hacked Saturday, and a a list of clients, personal information and credit card numbers purloined from its servers.
Having exposed the group's customers, the hackers apparently used the card numbers to make donations to the Red Cross and other charities.
The New York Times' Nicole Perlroth writes that the attack was also likely intended to embarrass Stratfor. She ends with a curious quote from Jerry Irvine, a member of the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity task force:
“The scary thing is that no matter what you do, every system has some level of vulnerability,” says Jerry Irvine, a member of the National Cyber Security Task Force. “The more you do from an advanced technical standpoint, the more common things go unnoticed. Getting into a system is really not that difficult.”
Sure, if it's a web server, exposed to the public by design.
But Stratfor didn't just expose a website to the public. It also, apparently, put all this other stuff online, in the clear, for the taking.
It's true that websites are like storefronts, and that it's more or less impossible to stop determined people from blocking or defacing them now and again.
Here, however, it looks like Stratfor left private files in the window display, waiting to be grabbed by the first guy to put a brick through the glass.
Now, I'm not a member of the national IT security planning task force. But I'm pretty sure that putting unencrypted lists of credit card numbers and client details on public-exposed servers isn't quite explained by "no matter what you do, every system has some level of vulnerability."
UPDATE: One Anon claims that the hack was not the work of Anonymous. However, the usual caveats apply: no structure, no official channels, no formal leaders or spokespersons.
The Guardian catches up with Alan Moore, writer of V for Vendetta and noted grumpy, uncompromising debullshitificator, and asks how he feels about the Guy Fawkes mask from his comic becoming a symbol of Anonymous and Occupy protests.
"I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn't it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It's peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction..."
Moore first noticed the masks being worn by members of the Anonymous group, "bothering Scientologists halfway down Tottenham Court Road" in 2008. It was a demonstration by the online collective against alleged attempts to censor a YouTube video. "I could see the sense of wearing a mask when you were going up against a notoriously litigious outfit like the Church of Scientology."
But with the mask's growing popularity, Moore has come to see its appeal as about something more than identity-shielding. "It turns protests into performances. The mask is very operatic; it creates a sense of romance and drama. I mean, protesting, protest marches, they can be very demanding, very gruelling. They can be quite dismal. They're things that have to be done, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're tremendously enjoyable – whereas actually, they should be..."
"I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope." Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. "It's a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It's not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don't like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts." Moore chuckles. "I find it more funny than irksome."
"Anonymous Finland" claims it has compromised the email logins and passwords of 500,000 Finns -- about ten percent of the country's population.
Among the hacked emails are allegedly accounts belonging to journalists at Finland's mainstream daily Helsingin Sanomat, members of the Finnish parliament, police officials, Helsinki city councillors and students and faculties at several of the country's universities.
The hackers said they had taken advantage of security loopholes in company computer systems storing email addresses and passwords.
Anonymous Finland has also launched a campaign against the rightwing extremist Finnish Resistance Movement, leaking a list of its membership applications on October 31.
And on Monday, the group announced it was launching a series of cyber attacks against Finnish mining company Talvivaara, alleging its mining activities in Sotkamo in eastern Finland are conducted to "the detriment of the local natural environment and people of the communities".
Fold this bandana in half to transform into the famous fawksy provocateur from the comic pages. It's perfect for protecting yourself from sudden dust storms and outbreaks of authoritarianism. Keep your neck warm during those cold sit-ins. Use it as an impromptu rucksack to cart your gear from Zuccotti Park when the cleaners come. Cut eye holes to wear as a full face mask for added anonymity. Flag Fawkes. This is the hanky code for revolution.
*For every bandana ordered one will be sent to one of the Occupy branches worldwide. Double your effect and increase the anonymity!*
[Video Link] Over the last few days, word has spread of a purported #antisec operation by Anonymous against the most brutal of all Mexican drug cartels, Los Zetas. One element in the story is this video, above. Weeks after it came out, George Friedman's Austin Texas-based consulting firm Stratfor issued this report, and media gobbled it up. A story was born: "Anonymous is taking on the most feared drug cartel in the world, for great justice."
What was unusual about the way this story spread was the speed at which it was amplified by credulous reports from larger media outlets, despite a dearth of confirmable facts. This op got lots of press, fast. Faster, in fact, than it got support from Anons.
Geraldine Juarez and Renata Avila were two of the earlier voices I read expressing doubt about the prevailing storyline—a report by Juarez is here. Some I spoke to within Mexico wondered if the Mexican government (no bastion of purity) might be involved.
Over at Wired News, a must-read piece by Quinn Norton that cinches the deal for me (and in it, she references the aforementioned Global Voices item). Quinn's been covering Anonymous extensively for some time, and I trust her spidey sense on this one.