Archive for the ‘Jokey’ Category
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par·a·noi·anoun1.Psychiatry. a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personalconflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing todisturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.2.baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.Also, par·a·noe·a [par-uh-nee-uh] Show IPA .Origin:
1805–15; < Neo-Latin < Greek paránoia madness. See para-, nous, -ia
Paranoia , the Anonymous intelligence division (self described) published a dump of data ostensibly taken from Bank of America and TEK Systems last week. The information presented seems to show that BofA had contracted with TEK to create an ad hoc “Threat Intelligence” unit around the time of the LulzSec debacle. Of course since the compromise of HB Gary Federal and the revelations that BofA had been pitched by them to do some contract work in the disinformation business it only makes sense that BofA would set up a threat intel unit. The information from the HB Gary dumps seemed to allude to the fact that BofA was actively looking to carry out such plans against those they perceived as threats. Anons out there took great umbrage and thus BofA was concerned.
This blog post is being put together to analyze the data dumped by Anonymous and to give some perspective on what BofA may have been up to and to set some things straight on the meanings of the data presented by Paranoia. First off though I would like to just say that I think that generally BofA was being handed lackluster threat intel by a group of people with intelligence background. (for those names located in the dumps their LinkedIN pages showed former mil intel work) This of course is an opinion formed solely from the content that was available online. There may have been much more context in formal reports that may have been generated by the analysts elsewhere that was not open for the taking where Anon found this dump. The daily and monthly reports found in the database showed some analysis but generally gave rough OSINT reports from online chat logs, news reports, and pastebin postings. There seemed to be a general lack of product here and as such I have to wonder if there ever was or if perhaps those reports never made it to the internet accessible server that anonymous downloaded them from.
B of A’s THREAT INTELLIGENCE TEAM
Since the leak of their threat intelligence BofA has been recruiting for a real team it seems. A Google of the parameters show that they have a bunch of openings all over the place for “Threat Assessment” It makes sense since the TEK Systems team may in fact be mostly defunct but also that they likely would want an in house group and not have to pay overhead on consultants to do the work for them. TEK’s crew as well may have been the problem that caused the leak in the first place by placing the data in an accessible area of a web-server or having passed the data to someone who did not take care of it. Either way it looks as though BofA is seeking to create their own intelligence apparatus much as many other corporate entities are today. The big difference though is what exactly is their directive as a group is to be.
One of the problems I have with the Paranoia analysis is that they take it to the conspiratorial level and make it out to be some pseudo CIA like entity. The reality though is that from what has been shown in the documents provided, that this group really was only tasked with OSINT and threat intelligence by passive listening. This is a key difference from disinformation operations and active participation or recruiting of assets. I will cover this in more detail further on in this post so suffice to say that what BofA was doing here was not only mediocre but also not Machiavellian in nature. The argument can be made though that we don’t know the whole picture and I am sure Paranoia and Anonymous are leaning that way. I cannot with what I have seen so far. What I see is an ad hoc group of contractors trying to create an intelligence wing as a defensive maneuver to try and stay ahead of incidents if not deal with them more effectively should they not be able to stop them.
Nothing more.. Nothing less.
Threat Intelligence vs. Analysis and Product
All of this talk though should be based on a good understanding of what intelligence gathering really is. There are many variations on intelligence tasks and in this case what is clearly seen in the emails and documents is that this group was designated as a “Threat Intelligence” collection group. I have written in the past about “Threat Intelligence” and the misnomer many have on the idea that it is some arcane CIA like pursuit. One of the bigger problems overall is perception and reporting where intelligence gathering is concerned. Basically in today’s parlance much of the threat intelligence out there in INFOSEC is more around malware variants, their C&C’s and perhaps who are running them. With the advent of APT actors as well as criminal activity and entities like Anonymous the paradigm of threat intelligence has come full circle back to the old school idea of what it is from the military sphere of operations.
Today’s threat intelligence is not only technical but also human action driven and this makes it even more important to carry out the collection and analysis properly in order to provide your client with the information to make their decisions with. Unfortunately in the case of the data from BofA we see only sketchy outlines of what is being pasted online, what may be being said in IRC sessions, and what is in the news. Nothing overly direct came from any of the data that I saw and as “product” I would not be able to make much of any decisions from what was presented by TEK Systems people. What is really missing within the dump from Paranoia was any kind of finished analysis product tying together the information in a cogent way for the executives at BofA. Did TEK actually carry this type of activity out? Were there actual reports that the execs were reading that would help in understanding the contents of the raw intelligence that was being passed on in emails daily and monthly? I cannot say for sure. What I did see in the reporting (daily threat reports as well as monthly) were some ancillary comments by a few of the analysts but nothing overly structured or productive. I really would like to know if they had more of an apparatus going on here as well as if they plan on creating one again with all of the advertised positions in that Google search above.
Threat Intelligence vs. HUMINT
This brings me to the whole issue of Threat Intel vs. HUMINT. It would seem that Paranoia thinks that there is much more than meets the eye within the dump that makes them intone that there is a HUMINT (Human Intelligence) portion to the BofA program. While there may well be some of that going on it was not evident from any of the documents I looked at within the dump files. HUMINT would imply that there are active participants of the program out there interacting with the targets trying to recruit them or elicit information from them. With that kind of activity comes all of the things one might conjure up in their heads when they think on NOC (Non Operational Cover) officers in the CIA trying to harvest intelligence from sources (assets) in the field. From everything seen that was posted by Paranoia this is not the case.This operation was completely passive and just collecting data that was in public view aka OSINT. (Open Source Intelligence) Could BofA be seeking to interact more with Anon’s and generate more personal data other than that which the Anon’s posted about each other (DOX’ing) sure but there is no evidence of that. Given the revelations with HB Gary though I can see why the Anon’s might be thinking that they are likely taking more robust non passive actions in the background elsewhere though. Overall I just want everyone to understand that it’s not all cloak and dagger here and seems that Paranoia has a flair for the dramatic as a means to get their point across. Or, perhaps they are just living up to their name.
My assessment in a nutshell here of the Paranoia BofA Drop is as follows:
- Paranoia found some interesting documentation but no smoking gun
- TEK systems did a mediocre job at Threat Intelligence with the caveat that I am only working with the documents in plain view today
- BofA like any other company today has the right to carry out this type of activity but they need to make sure that it’s done well and that it isn’t leaked like this
- If more documents come out showing a more in depth look at the OSINT being collected then perhaps we can change the above findings
- BofA needs to classify their data and protect it better on this front
- Paranoia needs to not let its name get the best of itself
All the drama aside this was a ho hum really. It was funny seeing all the analysts taking down their LinkedIN pages (really, how sekret squirrel is it to have a LI page saying who you work for doing this kind of work anyway? SECOPS anyone?) I consider those players quite burned and assume they are no longer working on this contract because of it. All you analysts out there named, you are now targets and you are probably learning SECOPS the hard way huh? I guess in the end this will all just be another short chapter in Encyclopedia Dramatica and an object lesson for BofA and maybe TEK Systems.
For everyone else.. It’s just LULZ.
Newest U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy: “Trolling”… Say, Doesn’t Someone Already Have The Corner On This Market?
Trolling VS. Jihad
Well, once again I hear a story about CT efforts that I just have to facepalm and say WTF? The story was evidently posted while I was on vacation and not looking to enrage myself with the stupid (thus meaning I was reading Hunter and other classics whilst sitting on a beach) So, someone tipped me off the other day that this little gem was out there. The premise of the story/program is that the Dept. Of State has given the go ahead to this 20-something to put together a coalition of people across the globe to subtly (maybe) troll the jihobbyists and jihadi’s out there online to break them up as groups.
Really? Sooo, you are going to go on to say Shamikh and start to troll the players there in hopes that you will shame them into dropping the notions of radical jihad? Why am I surprised that a hair brained scheme like this would come out of State? My initial reaction was tempered when I read the piece again and the tempering was that this was going to be aborted before it got anywhere in the first place as the article describes scope creep already and a certain sense of other agenda’s on the parts of the players. In the end, I suspect there will be a failure to launch, but, what if they were to pull their act together? Would this in fact have any net effect on the jihadi’s and the forums they frequent?
I certainly think so… But… Not in the way that the creator of the idea has in mind….
The Psychology of Jihad and Trolling Them:
In reading the article the use of the word “Trolling” is somewhat a misnomer really I think. I would use “cajole” more than troll because the goal here is to subtly shame them and make them not only uncomfortable with wit and sarcasm, but also to lead them to drop jihad. Now, will this actually work? I suppose a dialog with certain folks as peers might actually work if you don’t alienate them with your “wit and sarcasm” but really, take a look at the mind set and the social norms of the people being targeted here. You are going to troll people who, though maybe misguided by doctrine or imam, or their personal histories, are rather devout about their beliefs, to the point that some actually take on jihad literally and go fight.
… And you seriously think mocking them will make them say; “oh, wow, I was being silly”
Good luck with that. Its my feeling that given the nature of the people I have seen/dealt with on the boards, that this will just not work. In fact, in certain spaces (and those spaces are now consolidating rapidly online creating a clearer channel) you will get yourselves banned rather quickly from the board. This too will also cause them to close ranks further and to become very selective about who they let in and who gets to talk, not to mention maybe force their hand to go to other places like the darknet to host their content. So, overall, I just don’t think that this line of action will be productive in any way.
Now, if you are going to go after more “moderate” sources of dialog like muslim.net or some of the other sites out there, you may have more luck and might be the right territory to hunt in and dissuade people from acting on jihad. It’s all a matter of how hard core these people are and how new they are to the whole thing. Sure, AQ/AQAP/Global Jihad is seeking new recruits all the time online but, they are also not really gaining a huge amount of traction there either. I do appreciate the idea of trying to debate these nascent jihadi’s with smart dialog, but, in the end, “trolling” will likely only make them angry, ban you, and then make vague and useless threats. Remember, these are giant crazy echo chambers and it’s not that easy to default them to sanity just by saying they are being stupid.
I would also say that using the moniker of “Troll” for this article on Wired was disingenuous if not just wrong for the circumstances. In the article, further down in graph 2 or three, the creator of the program clarifies that it’s not really trolling per se by the netspeak definition of it. Usually today’s troll is someone who is just maladjusted and looking for an outlet for odious behavior while usually enabled by anonymity. If one were to go troll (trollhard… haha..just had an image of another Bruce Willis movie there) hard at the jihadi’s it would be quite counterproductive. Unfortunately, this kind of thing already has been happening a little bit. It seems that some people have been not only inserting themselves into boards, hacking them, ddos’ing them etc. This has served only to cause them to be much more suspicious and clamp down on security.
This is not what we need.
YOU TROLL ME! I KILL YOU!
In the end, I just see this program having the net effect of creating a bunch of Ahmed the Dead Terrorist skits online…
… And that may be hilarious to some… It just won’t help us in the GWOT.
As many of you out there have likely seen, Jester got a bit upset when I tweeted to him this weekend pointing out the failure of his ways with removing sites (claimed by him) from the internet with his new tool. I responded to his self lauding tweets that in fact the site may be down now, but, as soon as they get their backup set, they will be back online, just like all the others, so, really what have you succeeded at? It’s been a couple years plus now that Jester has been on the scene tweeting the ever shouted “TANGO DOWN” and claiming a win for the good guy, mainly him. I and others do not feel that he is winning anything nor doing anyone any good except drawing attention to himself and whatever it is he thinks he is doing.
Nowadays, he has bracelets to sell (ostensibly for the wounded warrior project) and a brand name to keep up with his tweets of takedowns. He has inspired many followers and he often lately seeks their approval by tweeting with the hashtag #whoswidme which, well, pretty much to me is just a plea for attention. After the jibe from me on Saturday, he came out with statements that he was going to come at me and that I was on his radar.
Well.. today you have the response on his site and now Island.
The facts are these.
1) There were files on the server at the time, they were there for a reason and I told Jester that after he started mouthing off about it.
2) I am who I am, so I reacted as the bastard that I am. Meh.. It’s my idiom… Sue me… Oh, wait others have! And lost.
3) I fundamentally disagree with Jester’s method and his goals, as much as they have been explained of breaking their comm’s. I pretty much explained myself in rather clear, albeit terse, language on several occasions including my rant about getting off the lawn. As usual the reading and comprehension levels out there are varied, but the point was made. I continue to say the same thing. Everyone taking this all into their own hands and DoS-ing sites with the idea that they are stopping Jihadi recruitment are deluded. Nor are they driving them anywhere but maybe into places where others (LE) can’t necessarily see them.
This is the crux of the issue. That and I think that there is a certain pathology here with the Jester’s of narcissism and misguided ideals of heroism.
Jester has the right to write what he likes just as I do.. It’s all really a matter of how it’s done and what is being said that should really matter.
Ali didn’t go far enough so I will say it….
Yeah, I have seen the comments on the post Ali did on Island, and I have heard that there are some folks pestering him now online because of that post. Let me assure you that Ali is too nice of a guy and too caring in how he may be getting things across in a more, shall we say civil manner. Those are certainly not problems where I am concerned, so let me start off with a tirade, cool down a bit, then make a reasoned argument ok?
Listen up you morons, you are not doing ANY of us a favor with your antics. Taking down sites via DDoS or actually popping them and RM’ing them makes you NO BETTER THAN LULZSEC OR ANTISEC (of the Sabu variety pre popping by the Feds) Your hamfisted attempts at self glorification (and you know who I am referring to) are petty and stupid. You are not serving any greater good in my book and many others (including others in the CT world) by your actions. Basically, you are seen as trying to garner attention that you so much desire because of lacking interpersonal skills or psychological issues induced by ADHD/Aspergers.
Now, IF you are being condoned by some organization in your efforts and directed by parties in the government or military, I say to you, there’d better be a fucking good reason for the actions. I would also say that the stove pipe shit that was supposed to stop post GW’s order has not actually happened and people are just basically shooting each other in the knees here, and this is just patently stupid.
Cut it the fuck out!
For those of you on your own and emulating others such as he who shall remain un-named at present, know this, you are getting in the way. In one way it was nice to have 12 days of nothing to do post these last take downs, but on the other a lot of shit can happen in 12 days that could go spectacularly wrong because of your actions. Think about that as you ponder how you are helping the CT world and saving a soldier somewhere.
You aren’t You are deluding yourself into thinking you are, that’s all. You want to help? You go to the appropriate agency and offer your help. Don’t just go off half cocked and shoot others in the foot with your hair brained actions. Think about the consequence potential of what you are doing to those who are inside the system and operational ok? That especially goes for you Raptor, you claim to have taken down the sites but you really have given out no proof, so I cannot say for sure you did squat that way, but, what I can say is you did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the jihobbyists because here they are. all back again with databases intact!
Feel like Sisyphus much? Your victory was hollow at best.. IF you did anything.
So, like the title says… GET OFF MY LAWN!
Whew! Ok, got that out. Now let me take a more reasoned approach here…
First off, you want to help, then please offer help to those in charge of such matters. The FBI say or DHS etc etc. Hell, you can even contact the NYPD right? You see something you say something right? So you see shit, tar it up and email the shit to them! Maybe they already know about it. Maybe, it’s an ongoing operation and they will say thank you and move along. Mostly though, you will have done something constructive instead of destructive and inhibiting.
Secondly, once again, you never know what you are stumbling about in. You could be in fact ruining operations that could lead to arrests or actionable intelligence. Think about it before you go all charles bronson and then later pastebin dump about it.. Or for that matter, talk to Fox news about it. Now there’s operational security huh? Being a news whore about it will only get you derision on the part of some and outright malice on others.
Which am I in those two? Ehh mostly derision as you have seen in the past.
Suffice to say that all I really ask of you all, in my own special and endearing way, is to GET THE FUCK OFF MY LAWN! .. and others lawns. You wanna help, offer it to the authorities. Cut this chicken shit out.
NSA, Black Chambers, and MAE’s with NARUS STA-6400’s
The recent article on wired.com about the Senate hearing with General Alexander (NSA) was an amusing. In it, they link to a video of the testimony before congress by Alexander on the issue of interception and surveillance of digital traffic in the US by the NSA and thusly, the DoD by way of alleged hardware and processes by NSA. This ability to do so has been around for some time in the digital age we live in now and really came out when Mark Klein came out of the closet on the NARUS system at the MAE he worked at. However, way before this, the CIA and other agencies had such things as “Black Chambers” to open your mail or to look at your faxes/cable traffic via back door deals with the companies that made those technologies available. So this is nothing new in theory, just the actual practice of it has changed through the nature of technologies.
So, when I see the General hemming and hawing, obfuscating and inveigling about “how” things are done with the FBI as the internal acting body for surveillance and investigation after filling out paperwork, I have to snort and say “Liar” Or at the very least “obfuscator” The truth of the matter is that the NSA has the capabilities and the hardware but there is supposed to be a firewall against all of this happening (though there have been other whistleblowers from NSA who say otherwise) but, post 9/11 the lines have blurred considerably at the order of GWB.
Post 9/11: Bush Opens The Floodgates
There are stories of a room full of alphabet agency heads with GW when he told them all of the old rules applied no more. Domestic surveillance and all of the old rules were being thrown out the window and from what I heard, they were all kinda aghast at hearing it. What GWB was open the floodgates to the world of warrantless wiretaps and surveillance culture we now have and diminished the lines between military and civilian agencies collection and alleged sharing of data. In the case of the NSA though, the abilities were always there to monitor the traffic of the US, remember, how much of the infrastructure is indeed here? No, the only firewall was a rule set that said “thou shalt not listen to these people” and that was it. Post 9/11 though, because the 19 hijackers were here, they decided that the needs of securing the nation, rested on that firewall being turned off.
So it was that it steadily has become easier for the FBI and others domestic and military, to use the technologies at the hand of NSA and others to monitor the digital infrastructure. Ostensibly at first there were to be FISA courts and warrants, but, over the years as you have seen in the news, such things have become less and less used and the system negated. In the case of FISA, the FBI used it less and less, and in the case of the NSA, well, they never needed it because there weren’t “technically” allowed to monitor US Citizens right? This is not to say that they are always doing such things, but, you know that some have and it depends on the cases that they are making.
Remember, all of this is ostensibly to protect the nation from another 9/11.. And that the masses today are more often than not, oblivious to the precedents being set. This does not mean too that the NSA is just abusing these capabilities all of the time, nor is the FBI, in asking NSA for such intercepts.. But… Who watches the watchers really? Oversight committees only see so much and for those of you who say it is inconceivable I shall point to earlier history with Nixon and others as proof that it is not. So, if you wish to believe that it is all for our own good, and that terrorists like you see on NCIS are all being caught by these means legally and with honor, so be it.
Just know that people are fallible and the processes are so loose now with secrecy levels as never before to make things that do happen, never see the light of day whether they were right or wrong in the end.
NSL Letters and Warrantless Wiretaps
Today we have Anonymous making the waters muddier than ever before as well as a myriad of other security nightmares going on. Much of what goes on that requires the FBI to look into it is indeed illegal actions on the part of individuals and groups. On the terrorism side for instance there are many alleged “lone wolves” out there, jihobbyists really, who are mentally unhinged enough to want to plan and act out that require surveillance. These types of activities require the laws we have in place and the NSL letters and FISA warrants kinda eventually went out the window because they were too slow for the feds allegedly. Just as well, there were issues with the warrants filled out being overly broad and not having sustainable reasons for their being sworn out. Was it just laziness on the part of the feds or did they just want to obfuscate because they “wanted” them to go through because had they filled them out right or at all, they would have been denied?
Today we have cases of warrant-less wiretapping going on as well as the recent warrant-less GPS issue that was overturned by the courts and thus the FBI had to turn off some number of GPS units in the field. But hell, really. what’s the point when your cell phone does all the GPS tracking for you huh? Everyone today pretty much has one that does it and it’s likely on because you are not thinking about the fact that you are tracking yourself every 8 seconds by just owning the damn thing and having it on. So, once again, it comes down to the grey areas here where privacy is really only what you make for yourselves. In the case of an NSL letter or a warrantless wiretap, well, you won’t know about it until you are van&d right?
Generally though, I do not believe that people are being unjustly convicted yet or being watched en mass.. However, the environment is ripe if you tweet something that gets someone’s attention right? It’s when I say this or think about this, is when I think of Nixon and the odious things he was doing with Hoover and the FBI as well as his CIA plumbers. Some may feel that this is the same feeling today that they are having where all of this is concerned.
Watching Alexander Dance Reminds Me Of That Scene In “Clear and Present Danger”
Going back to the testimony by General Alexander I find it particularly interesting that the senator brings up Posse Comitatus and Alexanders reaction to that. I had generally thought that Posse Comitatus was kinda dead anyway, but, it is an important question to ask now about the digital domain today. NSA has it’s civilian portion but generally it is a military arm run by a general. By asking about domestic surveillance, the senator is breaching an important question about how the military wants in on the digital battlespace and just where that will be fought. Can one, in the digital age insure that battles by the military will only be carried out in servers outside the continental United States? The short answer is no, and one has to argue then that the military could very well be fighting battles within the US (networks) and would this in fact contravene the Posse Comitatus act?
It’s an interesting puzzle to look at and I am thinking perhaps the Senate is beginning to have a light bulb go on over their collective heads about it. Though, it is my thinking that the general was not being as literal minded or truthful about the intricacies of what they were asking for an answer about. In my opinon he sidestepped it a bit and I am sure others out there will differ with my opinion. In my mind though, the crossing of the Posse Comitatus line where this type of intercepts are concerned was long ago broken by the administrations desire for “security”
Don’t get me wrong though, I agree, that there are times when this is quite necessary, but, there should be rules and processes.. Unfortunately in the case of the FISA court and FBI, we have seen where it was contravened repeatedly, so who’s to say that the NSA is any different? Overall though, the scene reminded me of “Clear and Present Danger” where Jack Ryan is asking for “training money” when in fact he has been set up and is actually getting money for Operation RECIPROCITY. It was at that time that the senator asks him if he’s telling the truth and that they had heard this all before during Viet Nam.
Where does the truth of it really lie? Will we ever know?
IT’S FUCKING BAMFORD YOU FUCKWITS!
In the end, it was an interesting little video and I really wished that the players could even get the little details right. For your edification Senators and General Alexander, the writer’s name is James BAMFORD I am pretty sure that Alexander has heard the name before and I think he kinda just got a giggle out of the cluelessness of the senator asking the question. Bamford though, does his research and he knows his shit, so, I will lean toward believing him over the testimony in this particular video. So NSA is building a new facility and some have pointed out that it could in fact enhance their abilities to surveil domestic actors or, just suck up the internet traffic as a whole. The likelihood is that the capability is there, but once again, the laws and the rules say that they cannot “use” such data.
Read between the lines on the testimony.. The tech is there.. It’s the rules that say they cannot use it.
Your mileage may vary on what you choose to believe the intent and the follow through is.
Over the last few years, Jester has been out there making waves and headlines. I have been watching all of this with a jaundiced eye and think that its once again time I sit down and put my thoughts on paper, so to speak, about his antics. Recently, he had been pretty quiet until I posted another piece about him prompted by a SANS report on him and Asymmetric Warfare Approximately 2-3 days after this post, Jester suddenly released a tale about his QR code exploit and dumped a PGP file as alleged proof of his exploits worthiness.
To me this just smacked of a positive response to his negative press that I perhaps helped put out there with my post. It all just seemed a bit too coincidental to me that someone just came along and noticed his QR code, thus foiling his plan. He could have just said it was a lark.. Instead he released the “details” and suddenly he was in the press again as a hero or a novelty. So I had a sit down and a think about it all…
And this is the result.
Upon reflection I should probably call this section “Operational Hysteria” but meh, I will go with it this way. Since Jester showed up on the internet with his DDoS attacks I have been calling into question the “why” and not caring as much about the “who” As others went on (anonymous and others) to try and “dox” him it became apparent that it would not work because he had allegedly covered his tracks. I too attempted to look into who it may be and got pretty much nowhere and gave up as he was more an annoyance than anything else in my book.
But, back to the issue at hand. Jester’s operational history is much more interesting in that you hear a lot about his “exploits” but you really don’t hear about the effects that they bring about. As such, I would call you all to pay attention to the facts of what has happened thus far.
- DDoS: He claims to have DDoS’d jihadi sites and Anonymous sites.
- DOX-ing: He alleges that he dox’d Sabu
- Tampering Exploits: He alleges that he uploaded a tainted LOIC version for the Anonytards to use and thus pwn themselves
- QR Code Exploits: Lastly, he alleges that he created a QRC exploit kit using his Twitter account and pwnd a bunch of phones, downloading pertinent data on the “villains” that he had on a list
This post is being put forth to separate the wheat from the chaff on his stories and to demystify, hopefully, for some the myth versus the reality of just what has been going on. I do this because I think that all too many people are just buying into the stories by accepting “trust me, I did it” instead of real proof of actions and outcomes. Some will say that I just have it in for him after his “blue on blue” attacks on me, and yes, I will cop to that too, but, it’s become more of a debunking thing instead of as some have said “sour grapes” I say this because those who think that it’s all about sour grapes aren’t actually taking into account that there is any real proof of his exploits being effective or in fact really having happened (case in point the QRcode thing recently, we just have his story on a blog and an encrypted file that no one can decrypt as proof)
People should question things a bit more in today’s world of Anonymous, and cyber warfare. In this case, I not only question the motivations of the Jester, but also his modus operandi as well. There, to me, seems to be a pattern of talk about operations, press releases if you like, and then very little actual proof that anything has been really done nor any real net effects being captured to lend credence to his operations being effective.
Proof Of Operations:
So, on the proof side lets take a look at the op’s that he has alleged he has carried out and just what we can cobble together as to real outcomes:
- DDoS: He did indeed DDoS sites offline for short periods of time. In the case of Jihadi’s as well as Anonymous targets, it did little to stop them from operating online. In the case of the Jihad, he had made claims that he was “driving them” into actions that he did not elaborate on. In the case of the jihad, I have been intimately involved in monitoring these sites and the players out there. In my estimation, he has done little at all other than annoy the jihadis. I have made this point many times in the past in fact. The online jihad is carried out on multitudinous sites that are mirrored and have quite a high availability factor to start.
- DOX-ing: Jester alleges that he dox’d Sabu, which he does lay out the name and some other data but, this has been born out to be after the fact. Backtracesec were the first to put out the name as well as others inside the Anonymous collective who were unhappy with the way things were going. It was Backtrace though, who had the real background data and dossier that was quickly removed from the internet at the behest of the FBI. So, any claims to doxing Sabu are circumspect at best because the Backtrace release was pretty well know. I in fact wrote a post backing up their findings using Maltego on their data.
- Tampering Exploits: Jester alleges that he uploaded a tainted LOIC version for the Anonytards to use and thus pwn themselves. This is hard to prove as there was no real release of data from compromised systems. As jester is “anonymous” he cannot lay out the data (he claims) so there is no way to verify that it is indeed code he created but, the code and the tainted files were available for download. So, it may or may not have been him doing all of this as well as there “may” have been some who downloaded it and used it. There is however, no proof that anyone did and in fact any data was used to make arrests of anyone using this version of LOIC. In fact, the release of the exploit on jester’s blog only really served jester as publicity. Operationally, it compromised the op… If there was indeed one.
- QR Code Exploits: Jester alleges that he created a QRC exploit kit using his Twitter account and pwnd a bunch of phones, downloading pertinent data on the “villains” that he had on a list. This exploit, according to him, netted data of users who actually scanned the QR code on their smart phones and as an exploit is already being questioned by certain people (here and here) The questions concern the outdated nature of the exploit code that Jester is claiming to use as well as the operational issues over the use of netcat and other means he claims he did. According to some, these would in fact not work or could not work.
In the end the QR exploits effectiveness or even actually working on any phone, cannot be proven because once again, we just have Jester’s word that he obtained data. Jester did put out a PGP encrypted file that he claims is some of the data he harvested, but, as usual, no one has the key to open it. So, again, we have claims of operational work but no real proof of any kind of solid outcome from the operation. This means that again, we have to take him at his word and for me, that just doesn’t cut it.
All of these exploits or operations that Jester is laying claim to have little to no proof backing up their worth or their working and this is the crux of the matter. Not who he is.. But what has he really done.. And Why?
So, why would Jester be doing all of this? He would claim that he is just a patriot, a former SPECOPS guy, a man of action. Others might say that he is just a man on a mission with an active imagination. Yet others might wonder if he is a he at all, maybe he is a “they” and perhaps this is all a means to a larger end that is being supported by the military or the government. Personally, I am not too sure that any of these fit the bill. Perhaps it’s a melange of all of these and Jester was a military guy with some hacking skills who is being supported by the DoD as a means to get more people to elist.
Maybe he is just someone seeking attention for himself.
I know, some have said “But wait! He’s anonymous so how can it all be about seeking attention for himself?!” Uhh, yes Virginia, someone CAN in fact get and revel in attention even though “they” are not known by many for who they are so that argument falls quite flat. Out of the multiple choices here though, I lean more toward a single actor seeking attention, but, will fall back on the idea that this is a permissed operation with a wink and a nod to benefit the “Cyber Brigades” of the world. That this guy wraps himself in the flag every time and calls people Ma’am or Sir in IRC just bespeaks the whole patriot angle.
Now, that the operations have been either failures or not proven to have had any effect on their targets becomes immaterial to the outcome of garnering attention by the very nature of the “secret” nature of the program that jester is putting out there as fact. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy for those who wish to idolize him as well as perhaps “fear” his machinations. Though, I don’t see too many people being that afraid of him. Nope, this all boils down to “what has he really done” to show you the “why has he done it” Since there have been no real big wins proven by actual details, I think it’s more about gathering attention or creating a legend, a sort of Sorkh Razil of the internet if you will.
In the end, I cannot say with certitude why Jester is doing what he is doing. All I can say is that he has never been able to present definitive proof that he has really done anything at all.
Inside The Fact Impervious Bubble:
It is this central problem of not really proving having done anything other than some DDoS attacks on hapless jihobbyist sites that has me in awe of the media and public response out there to his antics. Inside the Impervious Fact Bubble or IFB ™ so many have just glommed on to him and his exploits as a rallying call. Someone’s gotta “git er done” and by golly Jester will! Even in the face of the stunning lack of real outcomes from his “operations” the mystique of the “Red Rascal” has played out for him well. There are many people who just eat it up and rally to Jester as if he were the single handed savior to them all on the internet.
So, with every exploit that Jester claims he has perpetrated, the masses who believe in him without critical thinking cheer him on and look up to him. His IRC chat room has been a well of wanna be’s and hangers on as well as a place for trolling but the majority of it seems to be the former and not the latter. Believers get to visit with their hero and the trolls (non believers or anonymous minions who hate him) all the while he puts out his rep that he is the lone soldier in a war on terror, be they Anonymous or Islamic Jihad. All of this though, never seems to include any of the critical thought surrounding proof of his exploits or any real outcomes from them.
Why is this? Are people just that in need of a hero? I have to wonder, but it would seem that this all grants Jester a lot of attention and love from his followers, attention that I believe he revels in.
Overall, my conclusions are that Jester has never really proven his worthiness to be adulated or looked up to. His swagger and his chutzpa only bedazzle those not willing to do more looking than to his blog or his twitter on his exploits worthiness. If indeed Jester is the sole proprietor of this operation, he has a pretty perfect means to garner attention with minimal output other than some creative writing and claims of grand schemes. Because the operations and their outcomes are super secret, it is the perfect scam really. After all, how can you prove anything didn’t happen? It’s all secret you know.
On the other hand, if this is some sort of condoned or sanctioned operation, what ends would there be? My suspicion would be to generate a buzz around such actions so as to make something like the “cyber brigade” a real attractive thing to the masses of hacker wannabe’s out there. If they all want to be like Jester, then they will sign right up for the brigade. I however have yet to see a real hand in this game from the military side. Nor have I ever been given any proof that these operations have had any real palpable effects on the targets to move them in directions perhaps the military or the government might like.
Thus it leads me back to the first premise. Jester may just be a person or a small group of people with an agenda of their own. An agenda that include a media arm and attention from said media and the populace and not altruism or patriotism. If indeed he/they think that they are doing something greater, then he/they are deluding themselves. Unless Jester can prove to me that there has been substantial action resulting in arrests or breaking up of cells (jihadi or other) by direct response to his/their actions, I just feel that it’s self aggrandizement on a grand scale.
So, J, if you really are doing something.. Prove it and I will take all of this back and support you.
If not.. Then you know where I stand… As you have before.
Personae Dramatis: The Rogues Gallery
In this post I would like to show you what I have been seeing with regard to Anonymous the other groups that have spawned from it. Increasingly over the last year or two I have been seeing analogies both literally, and figuratively between the forces at play and I feel that all of it is directly affected by the comic book world of Batman. The analogies that I am making come from observing not only the actions of the parties but also the methods that they use (down to the imagery in word and graphical) to get that message out to the masses.
In the case of Anonymous and their spin off groups, I have observed a shift in personalities that could be termed an evolution in motivations and thought. Generally though, the game plan seems to be just a general way for the groups to sow anarchy while feeding their narcissistic needs through media attention. This is the crux of the issue I think as the core groups don’t seem to be solely motivated by ethical or political change. Instead, it all seems to be focused on a few drivers;
- Lulz Just for the hell of it, or a desire for amorphous anarchy
- A feeling of power over other forces (government/law) that subsumes their feelings of powerlessness
- A need to fulfil the narcissistic tendencies by sowing havoc and seeing it in the media (like some narcissistic serial killers Denny Rader for example)
Equating this with the world of the Batman has been in the back of my mind for some time, especially since my dealings with Jester. His logo and his persona of the “joker” from the last Dark Knight film set the stage for me to start to think in this vein. A more recent video by the History Channel solidified all of this for me. The video, “Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight” struck me as not only as being the zeitgeist of this article, but, also seemed to show a generation of comic book and movie goers that are internet denizens that want to emulate this last iteration of “The Joker” specifically.
The Heath Ledger portrayal of Joker seems to have been the catalyst to me, of many an internet anarchist. The media surrounding this being his last role as well as the way the character was re-written in this story arc, hit a common nerve with the masses. So much so, that seemingly, the Joker became the more emulated and lauded character in the story over its real hero, Batman. It is from this realisation that I derive the rest of the analogies made here. Of course these are gross generalities, but, I tend to think that given the recent activities (riots in the UK and flash mob thievery in the US as well as all the lulz) there is a strong correlation to be made.
First though, lets look at the Rogues Gallery that end up in Arkham Asylum…
Ra’s Al Ghul and The Shadow Assassins
Ra’s is a control freak. His agenda is to have order but his means to get that order mean subjugation of the masses and removal of anyone that does not conform to his sense of right and wrong. This order that he wishes to impose comes from his shadow assassins and their lethality without question.
The Riddler is a pure narcissistic criminal genius. His narcissism though, is usually his undoing as he cannot perpetrate any crime without leaving overt clues in an attention seeking pathology. It is this pathology, the need for the attention that drives him altogether and is his undoing.
The Penguin & The Joker or PenguiJoker
The Penguin (Societal and Governmental corruption) and The Joker (pure anarchy) are two rogues that have become one in this scenario. Within the world of Batman though, each attacks the order seeking to destroy it for their own ends. In the Penguin we have someone looking to corrupt the system. Meanwhile, the Joker, is pure anarchy diametrically opposed to the order (aka Batman) Joker’s need is fuelled by a nihilistic world view twisted with a good deal of insanity.
All of the Batman wannabes in hockey suits
Lastly, we have the Bat-men, the would be vigilante’s who want to be the Bat, but, don’t have the tools to really be of use. This character set was added from the last film (The Dark Knight) and I generally attribute to one player in the real world (if you call it that) version of Gotham Knights being played out on the internet. That individual(the afore mentioned jester) oddly enough aligns himself visually much of the time with “The Joker” but, he is more like the hockey suit wearing would be Batman.
Now that I have laid down the Batman’s Rogues Gallery, I will move on to the real world players and their motives aligned with my premise.
Anima & Animus:
The shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to projection: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections are unrecognized “The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object–if it has one–or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.”  These projections insulate and cripple individuals by forming an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world.
According to Jung and even Freud, the darker side of the psyche can drive our actions solely by the shadow self. One can see hints of their theories in the actions of each of the groups we are talking about here. Even the subtle connections made from overt symbolism can be made through the icon of Antisec itself. As seen at the top of the page, the connections are there to be made between the characters of Penguin, Joker, and Riddler, even if the original core image came from another source altogether (V for Vendetta) I believe that the collective unconscious here latched on to the images of Riddler/Joker/Penguin and co-opten them, if they didn’t actually do so overtly and with forethought.
So, with all of this said, I will make the claim now that I believe the movements and the players have been created out of vainglorious motives and have not changed at all since taking on the mantle of ethical and political change through civil disobedience. To that end, here are the players aligned to their characters from the world of Gotham as well as their psychological underpinnings.
Anonymous: Ra’s Al Ghul and The Shadow Assassins
Anonymous started out as a group of people who inhabited the 4chan group but wanted to do something different for ‘entertainment’ This loose idea was co-opted when they began to commit civil disobedience for their own purposes either political or for the aforementioned entertainment value. Either way, their animus is wholly about the control which they can wield over others. This should never be forgotten, that the core of the group ethos has nothing to do with change or moral/ethical betterment. It is in fact all for their own enjoyment.
Lulzsec: The Riddler
Lulzsec came into being because they felt that the ethos and moral constructs of Anonymous were too weak and they wanted to escalate the ‘lulz’ for their own enjoyment. The take away here is that just being pranksters was not enough, instead they wanted to show everyone they were smarter than everyone else AND that they could do so and get away with it. All the while, they performed these acts in an exceedingly narcissistic way. A key player in this that has been caught would be Topiary. It seems that even in the face of prosecution he thumbs his nose at authorities as well as seems to be enjoying the limelight (philosophical book in hand for the cameras)
Antisec: The Penguin & The Joker or PenguiJoker
The love child of Anonymous and LulzSec are #Antisec. This agenda or perhaps subgroup (I tend to think there are cells of Antisec) has chosen a logo that decidedly shows the melding of at least two of the Batman Rogues Gallery (Joker and Penguin as you can see at the top of this article) This too follows into their attitudes about what they are doing and why they are doing it. They really have no rhyme or reason for what they do other than their own entertainment and attention. This is a classical narcissist behaviour and by all communiqués laid out by LulzSec, they fully enjoyed their ‘voyage’ in the lulz sea.
Antisec also has a Penguin side to them too. By using the system against itself (i.e. using the governments lack of network and system security) they poke them in the eye by subverting their own data to shame them. This is a lesser characteristic as I see it, but it is still important to note as well as point out the imagery (homage) to the Penguin in their logo whether it was overtly done or by proxy of some unconscious connection made by the designer.
th3j35t3r: All of the Batman wannabes in hockey suits
Finally, we have the jester. A character who wants to be the Batman, but fails to actually affect any kind of real change in the battle. For all of the attempts made, the efforts fall flat and to date, nothing has been attributed to him that substantially made a difference against the Anonymous/Lulzsec movement. I believe he does this as well as his other DDOS actions out of a self described sense of helplessness. Jester makes the claim that he had to do something as he saw his comrades dying at the hands of Jihadists. He made similar remarks about why he was attacking Anonymous, as they were outing data that could harm those in the field of battle.
Either way, his motivations seem to be tainted with a bit of narcissism as well, seeking the attention of the media as he has in the past makes him part and parcel to the overall problem.
And so it goes on… The Anon movement has begat others who have agenda’s of their own (or perhaps pathos is a better word) As the movements lose interest in the day to day grind of operations, they will increasingly seek to up the ante. As the media winds down on them, they will need to seek even bigger targets and outcomes to end up back on the top of the news, all the while feeding their collective need to be the centre of attention. The flip side of this will be that the authorities, unable to cope easily with the problem at hand, will create new and more stringent laws that will harm us all. Though this will not matter to the groups.. Because this is unimportant to their end goal of satisfying their needs. It will keep going round and round and the outcomes are likely not to be good. There will be a lot of collateral damage and in the end, no one will have profited at all from it all.
So what is the end game here? Will there be any good outcome from this?
Not if it keeps going the way it has been. More indiscriminate hits against targets without showing anything for it along the lines of showing corruption or malfeasance will only lead to more knee jerk reactions by authorities. I imagine some will be caught and tried for their actions, others will escape and perhaps go on to other things… Overall though, it will not make a better world. It will only have fulfilled the dsires temporarily of the ones perpetrating the acts against.. Well anyone and everyone.. Until they get put into Arkham.
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 19, 2010; A01
By early 2008, top U.S. military officials had become convinced that extremists planning attacks on American forces in Iraq were making use of a Web site set up by the Saudi government and the CIA to uncover terrorist plots in the kingdom.
“We knew we were going to be forced to shut this thing down,” recalled one former civilian official, describing tense internal discussions in which military commanders argued that the site was putting Americans at risk. “CIA resented that,” the former official said.
Elite U.S. military computer specialists, over the objections of the CIA, mounted a cyberattack that dismantled the online forum. Although some Saudi officials had been informed in advance about the Pentagon’s plan, several key princes were “absolutely furious” at the loss of an intelligence-gathering tool, according to another former U.S. official.
Four former senior U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified operations, said the creation and shutting down of the site illustrate the need for clearer policies governing cyberwar. The use of computers to gather intelligence or to disrupt the enemy presents complex questions: When is a cyberattack outside the theater of war allowed? Is taking out an extremist Web site a covert operation or a traditional military activity? Should Congress be informed?
“The point of the story is it hasn’t been sorted out yet in a way that all the persons involved in cyber-operations have a clear understanding of doctrine, legal authorities and policy, and a clear understanding of the distinction between what is considered intelligence activity and wartime [Defense Department] authority,” said one former senior national security official.
The rest HERE:
I had been seeing traffic on the Muj sites that was claiming there were sites that had been set up by the CIA. It seems now that the rumours were true. Of course it was only natural that such a gambit be used to gather intelligence on the jihadists, but to unceremoniously tear down the sites is rather foolish in my mind.
By taking these sites down they have broken the chain in intelligence gathering from many perspectives. Sure, they may have stopped some planning or finishing touches on a certain attack, but, they have managed to make all of the users not only potentially move on to another site, but to change their modus operandi altogether.
Now the jihadi’s are likely to either start dark net sites, or use more traditional means of communication that would be on par with intelligence tradecraft. Means such as dead drops and encoded messages that are transmitted to one another via personal contact. Much as just after OBL learned that his SAT Phone was being listened to, he then began to talk directly to his people or send “runners” with messages ala Roman general methods.
Post this incident there has been a lot of talk about how this will create fallout for the intelligence gathering types. The CIA was opposed to this site’s being taken down but the NSA and the military won out much like they did during the run up to the now infamous UN session where Colin Powel presented the CBRN data on Iraq. I guess that the CIA is still in the dog house post Tenet’s “slam dunk”…
All of this brings up some good points though on how to handle the “Cyber Insurgency” that has been building over the years. Just what do you do about cyber jihad? What are the ground rules on a move like the one carried out by the NSA? I can bet there were more clients other than the CIA and Re’asat Al Istikhbarat Al A’amah that are pissed about this intelligence gathering tool’s loss.
I foresee much more talking having to be done in the near future to hammer out the details of such things. For now though, expect the insurgents to re-group and come up with new ways to communicate.