Anonymous Wikileaks LogoUS security consultants may have been conspiring in secret to bring WikiLeaks down, but Britain’s former intelligence chief links WikiLeaks with the downfall of oppressive regimes in the Middle East. And then there’s WikiLeak’s staunchest supporter, Anonymous, which caught said security consultants with their pants down (and may have even erased their CEO’s iPad).

(via Slashdot)

Former MI6 Chief Credits WikiLeaks With Helping Spark Revolutions

“Sir Richard Dearlove, former Intelligence Chief of MI6, credits WikiLeaks with helping spark revolutions in the Middle East, in (what was supposed to be) an off-the-record speech. ‘I would definitely draw parallels at the moment between the wave of political unrest which is sweeping through the Middle East in a very exciting and rather extraordinary fashion and also the WikiLeaks phenomenon. Really, what ties these two events together, and of course a number of other events, is the diffusion of power, away from the states and the empowerment of individuals, and small groups of individuals, by technology,’ he said.”

Meanwhile, the EFF points out some of the shockers we wouldn’t know without WikiLeaks.

Some WikiLeaks Contributions To Public Discourse

“The EFF argues that regardless of the heated debate over the propriety of the actions of WikiLeaks, some of the cables have contributed significantly to public and political conversations around the world. The Guardian reported on a cable describing an incident in Afghanistan in which employees of DynCorp, a US military contractor, hired a ‘dancing boy,’ an under-aged boy dressed as a woman, who dances for a gathering of men and is then prostituted — an incident that contributed important information to the debate over the use of private military contractors. A cable released by WikiLeaks showed that Pfizer allegedly sought to blackmail a Nigerian regulator to stop a lawsuit against drug trials on children. A WikiLeaks revelation that the United States used bullying tactics to attempt to push Spain into adopting copyright laws even more stringent than those in the US came just in time to save Spain from the kind of misguided copyright laws that cripple innovation and facilitate online censorship. An article by the NY Times analyzed cables released which indicated the US is having difficulties in fulfilling Obama’s promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and is now considering incentives in return for other countries accepting detainees, including a one-on-one meeting with Obama or assistance with the IMF. ‘These examples make clear that WikiLeaks has brought much-needed light to government operations and private actions,’ writes Rainey Reitman, ‘which, while veiled in secrecy, profoundly affect the lives of people around the world and can play an important role in a democracy that chooses its leaders.’”

But that’s not stopping the intrepid security firm HBGary from trying to bring WikiLeaks down.

Secret Plan To Kill Wikileaks With FUD Leaked

An anonymous reader writes “Three information security consultancies with links to US spy agencies cooked up a dirty tricks campaign late last year to destroy Wikileaks by exploiting its perceived weaknesses, reads a presentation released by the whistleblowers’ (pdf) organization that it claimed to be from the conspirators. Consultants at US defense contractors Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary proposed to lawyers for a desperate Bank of America an alliance that would work to discredit the whistleblowers’ website using a divide and conquer approach. Since the plan was hatched, disgruntled volunteers mentioned in the PDF broke away from Wikileaks, financial institutions withdrew services, [Jacob ] Appelbaum was harassed by the US government, and Amazon denied service to Wikileaks’ website.”

[BTW, the EFF is hiring summer interns]

What is stopping HBGary is Anonymous, the dispersed band of Internet pranksters notorious for their unsavory Internet pranks–unsavory, that is, except by comparison to HBGary’s own unethical acts, unearthed by Anonymous in response to HBGary’s campaign against them. From Wikipedia:

In 2010, Aaron Barr, CEO of HBGary Federal….claimed to have used his techniques to infiltrate Anonymous, partly by using IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and social engineering. His e-mails depict his intention to release information on the identities of Anonymous members at the B-Sides conference and to sell it to possible clients, including the FBI.

Anonymous denied association with the individuals that Barr named. In his leaked e-mails, Barr explained that he identified his list of suspected Anonymous “members” by tracing connections through social media, while his main programmer criticized this methodology.

If Barr knew so much about Anonymous, then I’m guessing he saw this coming:

On February 5-6, 2011, Anonymous hacked their website, copied tens of thousands of documents from HBGary, posted tens of thousands of company emails online, and usurped Barr’s Twitter account in revenge. Anonymous also claimed to have wiped Barr’s iPad remotely, though this act remains unconfirmed.

The activities that Anonymous discovered in HBGary’s files included creating fake identities to manipulate the public:

It was also revealed that HBGary Federal was contracted by the U.S. government to develop astroturfing software which could create an “army” of multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues. This software could also scan for people with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like and then have the “fake” profiles attempt to discredit those “real” people.

HBGary also had a hand in developing malware:

HBGary had made numerous threats of cyber-attacks against Wikileaks. The dossier of recently exposed emails revealed HBGary Inc. was working on the development of a new type of Windows rootkit, code named Magenta, that would be “undetectable” and “almost impossible to remove.”

In October 2010, Greg Hoglund proposed to Barr creating “a large set of unlicensed Windows 7 themes for video games and movies appropriate for middle east & asia” (sic) which “would contain back doors” as part of an ongoing campaign to attack support for Wikileaks.

It’s one thing to bring down WikiLeaks, but trying to take down Anonymous with IRC is like trying to put out a fire with a bucket of gasoline.

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