February 22, 2011

HBGary, Anonymous, and Wikileaks

This is turning into one of the best stories so far this year, and yet it seems doomed to only be known by geeks. Still spinning quickly, with new revelations daily, but it goes a little something like this:

  1. Three security firms--Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies--are hired by law firm Hunton and Williams to neutralize the potential threat posed by Wikileaks' releases.
  2. Aaron Barr at HBGary proposes leveraging his experience with social networks to expose the identities of active Anonymous members.
  3. HBGary/Barr publicly discuss their investigations of Anonymous; Anonymous then retaliates with a DDoS on the HBGary web site.
  4. Barr then approaches Anonymous members in an IRC chat as part of his preparation for an upcoming presentation. Soon after: Anonymous compromised the company's website and then copied internal documents and 60,000+ e-mails to BitTorrent for anyone to download. For further fun, they also vandalized Barr's Twitter and LinkedIn. To state the obvious: this was all done in short order and to a presumably skilled security company who had major contracts with the US government.
  5. The leaked documents are poured over by journalists. They reveal that HBGary was hired to spread lies about Wikileaks, its leader Assange, civil rights lawyer and vocal supporter of Wikileaks Glenn Greenwald, and Anonymous. Anonymous has done much digital mischief in support of Wikileaks, including DDoS attacks on the web sites of Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal--all corporations who refused to honor individuals' donations to Wikileaks. Barr viewed Anonymous as both appropriate collateral damage and good publicity.
  6. Further examination reveals that the US govt was behind many of the HBGary plans, including proposed attacks on unions. How timely, Wisconsin.

Interesting links:

posted by sstrader at 10:11 PM in Internet | permalink | comments (0)

December 29, 2010

Net neutrality

Some notes I had taken a week back:

Compromise On Net Neutrality from WNYC with Tim Wu commenting, at around the 6:30 mark:

I was in the FCC and I said why don't we just extend [Net Neutrality rules] to wireless, and they said "that's great, but AT&T will never agree to that. And I said "AT&T doesn't have a vote on this commission." They said "yeah, but they got 60 Congressmen. They can make our life miserable."

Al Franken has been a long-time supporter. The video from his petition to save net neutrality:

In it, he asks: How long do you think it will take for these [media] monoliths to buy enough elections so that they effectively have veto power over anything Congress tries to do to regulate them. Succinct.

Recently, I had serendipitously read Richard Stallman's essay in The Guardian titled The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control.

In the physical world, we have the right to print and sell books. Anyone trying to stop us would need to go to court. ... However, to set up a website we need the co-operation of a domain name company, an ISP, and often a hosting company, any of which can be pressured to cut us off.

We need more extremists like him.

Ars Technica reviewed recent books on the subject, one by Tim Wu, in their article Four takes on why net neutrality matters. The reviewer gets to the heart of the heart of the matter:

The deeper problem is that the First Amendment is empirically blind. It is oblivious to speech and information bottlenecks. It is not in fact a "free speech" guarantee, but a limitation on government. The Supreme Court focuses more on the "no law" than the "freedom of speech" parts of "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." [emphasis mine] While "no law's" concern about state censorship is certainly well-taken, it is only half the story. It hobbles any government attempt to act against private censorship. (Indeed, corporations have discovered the First Amendment as a useful argument against many types of government regulation, from consumer disclosures to campaign finance.) In an ironic turn of events, the First Amendment is used against speech.

Finally, and related, we have David Frost interviewing Julian Assange on Al Jazeera via Reddit:

I'll repeat: David Frost has a show on Al Jazeera.

posted by sstrader at 2:01 PM in Internet | permalink | comments (0)

December 3, 2010

Wikileaks and the cables

wanted

+1 for the phrase banging the absolute hell out of.

Gizmodo first reports that the Swedish charges against Assange (because, you know, they're relevant to whether the content of the leaked documents adds insight to the action of the US govt) were not rape, then update them to reflect updated charges. Basically--and this is a delicate area--Assange had consensual protected sex, they slept, then woke up and had either consensual or unconsensual sex without a condom. It takes Gizmodo to report this? Really?!

Julian Assange answers your questions over at Guardian earlier today at ~13:00 UTC. Site was down for the duration of the Q&A, but they eventually get published. Worth reading for the alternate humility and slight arrogance. A pity he sided-stepped a diplomat's question--pissy as it was. Regarding getting bumped from AWS:

Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit inorder to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.

Wishing I would have better documented the reasons why these cables are neither boring nor filled with justifications to kill Assange (make up your minds, US politicians; either they're deadly or they're mundane):

H. Clinton made a lame non-apology to Sec.-Gen. of the UN Ban Ki-moon for spying on him.

Death threats and blood lust:

  • Tom Flanagan, a [former] senior adviser to Canadian Prime Minister I think Assange should be assassinated, actually. I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something.
  • Palin Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders? and asked whether it was a treasonous act.
  • Huckabee Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.

ReadWriteWeb points to an NY Law School post elaborating on the legality of Wikileaks' actions. Redirects (I won't get into the fact that their servers were never gone):

  • http://savewikileaks.dyndns.org/
  • http://wi.kileaks.com
  • http://wikileaks.no-ip.co.uk/
  • http://wikileaksmirrors.tumblr.com/ - actually a list of mirrors
  • http://likiweaks.com/

The information is out there. You haven't stopped anything.

[ updated 9 Dec 2010 ]

Not wanting to get too deeply into the charges, but a Slashdot comment references a blog post pointing to some suspicious social networking comments by one of the accusers. I hadn't seen this anywhere else, so it seems worth linking.

posted by sstrader at 11:26 PM in Internet | permalink | comments (0)

July 26, 2010

Wikileaks and The War Logs

[ updated the next day ]

Interesting events triggered by Wikileaks release of the US military logs of the war in Afghanistan:

  • Wikileaks' Afghanistan War Log vs. the Pentagon Papers from The Washington Post - I had hoped for insight but this "comparison" was a waste of bits. His points: (1) TPPs revealed that Johnson was planning to expand the war as he publicly stated the opposite, whereas Obama has made no such contradiction. The similarities are in kind, not specificity. The government in both instances was hiding/distorting facts that would weaken public support of a war. (2) TPPs questioned the government's credibility but TWLs does not... except where it does with civilian casualty numbers. The casualty discrepancy is dismissed as simply already well known, and therefore not relevant. This is, obviously, absurd. Common knowledge is useless until proof exists.
  • The War Logs entry at Wikipedia - Very active. One anonymous user keeps attempting to delete the link to Wikileaks based on national security. This reminds me of the attempt to delete an NSFW photoshop of Emma Watson from the internet. That campaign was as successful as the one against Wikileaks will be.
  • Comment from Reddit thread by Harry_Searward - Pointing out that everyone went apeshit about soldiers' safety when the Abu Ghraib pics were released. He concludes, sadly, that This will very soon be all about leaking, and whistleblowers, and danger to our troops ... What it won't be about is the actual substance of those reports.
  • A tweet from Mark Pesce - Wikileaks should be invisible. Stuff should just appear. No one should have any idea where it comes from.
  • New media WikiLeaks uses traditional media for its 'Afghan War Diary' from Marketplace - Limited release gets people to pay attention. Julian Assange says he's found only one carrot that gets journalists to dig through his piles of raw material: "You can have it first. ... When you release something to the world its scarcity goes from zero to infinity. There is not a good incentive for journalists to invest in pulling the material apart and writing up and placing it in context.
  • Not the Pentagon Papers from Slate - Asks the same question as the WaPo writer and with equally inept conclusions. The big spin is going to be again that The War Logs revealed (1) no government lies and (2) no revelations. Even with only a small fraction of the 90+k documents examined, these "conclusions" are simply wrong.
  • WikiLeaks and the War from The New Yorker - Points out what I and others have been: the depth and range of failures exposed by TWLs (some would call them "revelations"...) brings into question the reality of the government's confidence in the war. What does it mean to tell the truth about a war? Is it a lie, technically speaking, for the Administration to say that it has faith in Hamid Karzai's government and regards him as a legitimate leader--or is it just absurd?
posted by sstrader at 9:40 PM in Internet | permalink | comments (0)

February 22, 2008

More leak

The Intelligence Daily points out that Bank Julius Baer's attempted strong-arming of Wikileaks could serve to scuttle their $1 billion dollar IPO. The media attention on the court order to remove the wikileaks.com hostname from DNS servers, and the befuddlement over the unconstitutionality and technical impotence of such actions, makes BJB appear more shady than solid. Oh, that and the fact that they're laundering money for weathy clients...

Of equal interest, The Register outlines the impregnable wall that Wikileaks' creators (also the parents of The Pirate Bay) have constructed with the help of their ISP, PRQ. The data is encrypted, the server locations are undisclosed, the server logs are destroyed, and PRQ's lawyers are ready to handle empty threats of take-down. The Register is calling it bullet proof hosting, but we're all thinking data haven. As many others have said: this information will never disappear.

posted by sstrader at 12:28 PM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

February 18, 2008

Leak

Fascinating story about Wikileaks getting taken off the internets. Wikinews reports that they first were the target of a 500Mbps DDoS, then their main servers' UPS was destroyed in a fire at their Swedish hosting site, finally their domain was taken offline in the US after a decision in a District Court in California.

Wikileaks hosted documents leaked from a Swiss bank. The documents revealed possible tax evasion from wealthy and politically sensitive clients in several countries including the US. Although their main site is unavailable, the Wikipedia article lists http://wikileaks.be and http://88.80.13.160/wiki/Wikileaks as alternatives still accessible in the US. Reddit has a good list of related articles, the most useful is at Daily Kos.

Wikileaks is what makes the internet so valuable and although it's a shame that the US is playing China's tune, this information will never disappear.

posted by sstrader at 2:59 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (0)