Update on HBGary Federal and Anonymous

In a previous post, I discussed how Anonymous hacked into HBGary Federal and exposed plans to use false documents and sock puppetry to discredit Wikileaks and US labor unions.  The US Congress has begun a formal investigation into the relationship between the Department of Defense and the companies HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies.  (Article by Wired; by Forbes.)

Of perhaps more significance to the social history of computing, Anonymous has started a recruitment campaign, Operation New Blood (#opnewblood), based on their success in taking down professional security firms, and exposing the plans against Wikileaks and unions.  There is quite a bit of motion around this, including, for example, a well-produced recruitment video that is labeled as a class project.  The video is almost seven minutes long; I will quote a couple excerpts.

With a company in shambles, a CEO’s life derailed, and a dark secret uncovered, Anonymous is beginning to look less like a hacker group.  It begins to look like your best interest, as well as mine….  Since the conception of Anonymous, they have been responsible for various operations around the world, from bringing Internet service to the Egyptian people during their recent revolution, to opposing massive government agencies and corporations.

To be clear, I’m not a member of Anonymous, nor do I intend to become one, if for no other reason than my belief that structure and government are actually necessary, and I don’t see a future in anarchic movements.  However, I think this situation is a big deal, because I expect the recruitment push to find significant traction among people with computer skills who feel disaffected by society — and that group of disaffected computer folk is growing, as computer science becomes deprofessionalized.  I also believe — though I have no hard evidence for this — that the age and economic standing of the “average active Anon” is already on the rise, because over the last several years, their activities seem to have moved from juvenile baiting to occasional “freedom fighting” to this current position of an Emma Goldmanesque anarchic class warfare.

I predict a marked increase in politically and economically motivated hacktivism over the next five years, and a concomitant governmental backlash of aggressive new laws and enforcement on the use of computers and the posting and transfer of data.

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5 responses to “Update on HBGary Federal and Anonymous

  1. Anonymous actions are overrated, usually by its own members. It is a semi-serious, semi-prank (aka trolling) attempt at the whole world.

    The first actions of anonymous were against people who either were considered an enemy of the casual user of the messageboards where anonymous hails from or were simply made to screw with people’s mentality , for example idolizing a pop start from the 80′s.

    There is no such a thing as being a member, since that would require some central organization. Furthermore, anonymous trumpets that is anarchic but the majority of their members have no background on anarchism or any other political system.

    Myself , I have participated in some anonymous actions, but I do not fully support all of them. If you would like me to provide some more background on anonymous and why I don’t consider them something to be bothered with, leave a comment and I will communicate with you through e-mail.

  2. As another, slightly more active member of anonymous, I would like to offer a second opinion, if you will. Anonymous is not an anarchist group. Rather it is an entirely decentralized democracy. It is important to distinguish active members of anonymous from frequenters of the message boards from whence they arose (and no longer use to any real extent as a group).
    Anonymous is essentially a name given to a group of people who attempt to execute a mission. An example is operation payback, when anons attempted to shut down Amazon and other websites attempting to cut ties with WikiLeaks. Not all of anonymous participated in that operation, but it was sanctioned by the majority of the group and was therefore considered an action of Anonymous. If only a few members attempt to carry out an operation without the support of the groups majority, Anon does not claim responsibility for their actions, whether good or bad, successful or failed.
    The first commenter is correct in saying that there is no real membership. There is no list of people in the group. Anonymous is just a name that anyone can use, anonymously. Whether the overall goals of the group are social justice, or a laugh at the expense of those in power has yet to be seen. Still, there is always another point of view than those of the media. In truth, anonymous is everyone; anyone can be anonymous. They have only to don the mask.

    • The previous commenter did email a reply. Except, it was from a different email address and several days later, so I am not sure it was the same person. There was a lot of content, and the writer said I could use it here, but at least for now I won’t. None of it is verifiable, though it made a good read. In any event, thanks for the (well written and unverifiable) comment.

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