Trolls, Cutouts, and Disinformation Operations
B0bby Mann International Man of Misery
Kevin McAleavey posted a piece recently about how he thought perhaps that the Symantec code released to the world by YamaTougher may have in fact also led or could lead to some compromise of EMC and or RSA. While his post makes certain assumptions (self acknowledged) it was something to think about a bit as a potential collateral damage situation for RSA and EMC.
Soon after posting though, a user named Bobby Mann immediately called the author on his premise and made assertions in a rather rough fashion that he was in fact out of his head. While I personally have been known to make such assertions myself, I usually back my statements with facts and call out those who blatantly sow FUD among the community. In this case though, Bobby only got himself banned from the Island over further comments and actions that really just say he was a common “internet troll”
Soon after though, connections between Bobby and Symantec surfaced (his company is a re-seller of Symantec) and this piqued my interest in him as well as his commentary. You see, anyone connected to Symantec in such a way might in fact have something to gain by being the naysayer in this area right? Well, sorta at least, I mean the damage is done right? Symantec was pwnd and the code (though it be from 2006) is out and about. It just leaves more questions around the security of Symantec and its code further down the line from 2006 doesn’t it?
It also begs the question of what else may have been compromised there.. Or still may be?
In fact, I posted a piece on this very thing and have been fielding comments trying to minimize damage in a way to Symantec from someone, all the while though, I feel it still a valid question..
“Is Symantec still compromised?” “How is it that the people today at Symantec did not know about the 06 event?”
I only ask because in the news cycle they say they did not know they were compromised… Or was I hallucinating that?
Anyway, Bobby the troll got booted and seems to be done with the trolling for now. If you go back through many of his comments though, he does have quite the history of this.
Discernment Between Cutouts and Cutout Trolls
This event though made me think about trolling as a means to another end, an end that is just not all about being a penis. In the case of Bobby and Island, it seems that perhaps he may have something to gain in protecting the reputation of something his company re-sells. Others, like the comments on my blog post about the elephant in the room (Symantec’s failures and possible insecurity) may also have the same goal as well. I am unsure as to their real intents. In the case of Bobby, well, he seems to be rather “Trollington Bear” altogether so I lean toward that. The blog comments though to me, sounded a lot like someone who maybe invested in Symantec and did not want me driving their stock prices down.
Trust me.. I didn’t.
I guess what I am getting at is that trolls, while always available in the wild, also may in fact be cutouts for manipulation of story lines and perceptions under the right circumstances. One can even make the same case for YamaTougher him/themselves. Ask yourselves why YT would go about the things that he/they have done with the Indian angle as well as releasing old code and attempting to play the extortion game with Symantec.
What do they gain in attacking Symantec directly?
Are there others who would benefit from such an exploit as this? A company or persons unknown who could have some financial gain perhaps?
One wonders… In looking into Bobby he has a pretty consistent internet presence including a Linkedin profile as well as G+ etc etc. Though, the data within those sites is sparse and can lead one to believe that perhaps they are just a cutout series of accounts to lend credibility to his online persona. I guess in the end I just lean toward him being a real person…
Albeit a mostly useless one.
Disinformation Op’s And The Interets
Oh well, back to the Trolling on a micro scale. Bobby is a troll for all intents and purposes. So too you could say, is YammaTougher. The difference being between then is just what are their end goals here? This is something you the viewer have to take with a grain of salt with some of these comments on blogs as well as the bloggers themselves posting content to the web. Since the internet allows anyone to post anywhere, one has to separate the wheat from the chaff on what is being put out there.
In today’s world the internet has become the de-facto go to source for information. Wikipedia is a big example of this and as such there have been instances of people and corporations redacting content on their pages to make themselves look better. So, to quote the scifi types out there, it’s easy to “retcon” the truth just by posting it online and promoting it.
So, to Bobby I say “whatever” you can bluster on about how we are all morons for even bringing up the postulate of there being potential for compromise over leaked code. I still say that there is an elephant in the room and it has its trunk in Symantec’s trousers. YamaTougher meanwhile will go on propagandizing his/their alleged hacks and rants against India and other governments.
The problem is that too many people aren’t being discerning enough to separate the truth from the blather…
*I’m looking at you mainstream media*
Keep your wits about you kids… and always keep a UV lamp around to turn those trolls to stone (something I learned from Troll Hunter)