No, You’re Not A Spook Just Because You Track Social Media and Do OSINT
I Know, I AM A Broken Record But…
Gah! The bile has finally risen to the point where I feel compelled to blog (aka rant) again. What has me discomfited this time? Well, glad you asked, it’s all of these numbnuts out there on the Internets saying they are spooks, or inferring they are spooks because they track social media and claim to be OSINT specialists. Increasingly I am seeing these people listing that they will be at con’s or they offer services or god forbid have it on their LinkedIN account next to “Uber secret special internet cyber security specialist commando imperator” or somesuch bullshit title that they came up with during a nocturnal cyber emission.
Lately the Internets have been thick with this loamy bullshit and my limit has been reached, and thus a screed is born. Look, unless you went to “The Farm” or somewhere else under the auspices of some “agency or service” you are not a “secret agent” no matter what you think you might be able to pull off online as a moniker. You are not a secret SOF officer or for fucks sake James Bond of the Internets ok? Let me tell you a little secret as well. There’s a great difference between an “analyst” and a “special operations officer”.. I guess you never read those books or taken a class have you?
Look, just cut it out. You are much closer to being a Johnny English or a Maxwell Smart than you are to being George Smiley ok? *note all fictional!!* In the real world, and yes, your shit from the internet does effect the real world (meatspace to some) and when you do shit wrong or poorly, you can have repercussions that can range from “oh look how cute!” to “That’s it, jail time for you on the charge of douchery”
… And the douchery has been epic.
The Spook Shingle Is OUT!
Lately (ok over the last couple years really but I’ve finally had enough) there has been a deluge of self styled spook types out there with their digital shingles out. They range from mildly douchey to “OMFG You’re title is what?” It’s all a matter of degrees I suppose and some out there are just waving it all in the wind in hopes that someone will take them seriously and buy into their bullshit to get paid. Of course many in the community call bullshit on them but still, there lurks the odd C level who says “Oooh they look important because of their important titles with the spooky lingo” So in the end, some of these Cretans get paid for their dubious skills and that is dangerous in and of itself, I mean, this is how the Ligatt’s of the world make a living (i.e. douchery and gullibility)
Take a wander through LinkedIN sometime and you can see for yourself some of the epic titles out there that are followed by little to no experience on the profile. Still others make more shit up *freewheeling it* in hopes that the language and imagery will just bamboozle you into believing their dreck. It might amuse you for a while, you’ll giggle and then perhaps you will realize just how stupid it has all gotten and you will have an aneurysm. At the very least have a look though to understand the proportions of it and lament.
I Track Social Media and It’s OSINTSAUCE!
Meanwhile, many today are claiming to be performing “OSINT” (Open Source Intelligence) and featuring the angle that they are specialists in “Social Media” Each time I see or hear this I have a petite mal seizure and pray it will be the “big one” that will my own little ceremony of the cremation of care. Unfortunately I keep waking up and there they are, still sat there making prognostications over twitter and facebook feeds. The big problem I have is are they just looking at these feeds or are they interacting? How are they analyzing what’s being said and with what kind of rigor before generating some report for whomever? Just what exactly are they doing? Is it really “OSINT” or is it just loose reporting of the diatribes of Anon’s 140 characters at a time?
Looking back, I see the same thing with Aaron Barr and the HB Gary affair, he said he had nailed down the leaders of LulzSec via OSINT/SOCMED but when the time came, and the data was laid bare to the masses he had nothing right. Is this OSINT? One word.. “No” However, it does make a real point that many seem to not get.. OSINT is “INT” meaning Intelligence. Intelligence is not a game of “Slam Dunks” unfortunately now VERY clear to George Tenet in hindsight. You are dealing with information that usually comes from sources that could be outright wrong, or misleading you on purpose. It is the job of the analyst to correlate the data, fact check as much as possible, and then report on what he/she has discovered. Unfortunately, many of the people out there today claiming the mantle of OSINT specialist don’t have the benefit of that knowledge, nor have the background to do so, but they do anyway. Of course this also covers those not doing it as a job but instead for fun online or with some grudge to work too.
A DOX Here A DOX There.. DERP, DERP, DERP
Then there’s the “D0xing” as made popular by Anonymous. Frankly I have been amused by some of the lulz here but schadenfreude aside, what’s the point? I have harped on this before in posts about Anon exhorting them to do better if they were going to be “moralfags” (their term for it) to enact change. If it’s for the lulz well, that’s all it is whether the dox are right or wrong. However, if you are trying to effect change for the better, your dox better be right. A recent posting over the rape charges in Ohio on LocalLeaks is a case in point. The site is touting the release of the email spool for a “fan” of the local football team who may or may not be close with its players.
The dox drop of the mail spool is accompanied with innuendo about photos within that “may be” of an underage person (see post on site) While the rear end in question is certainly not of a 90 year old, neither can it be said that it is at all anyone underage either. Upon looking at the other “evidence” that Anon has dropped, nothing else shows much as to their being any untoward activity by Mr. Parks. This is the problem with bad intelligence gathering and analysis, you are not doing anyone a service when you only have some information and then you decide to make the rest up to fit your story (ya know, like the WHIG before Iraqi Freedom right?)
The same goes for those within the security community that speciously claim intelligence wins with data from social media etc because in the end, nothing in the intelligence game is a “slam dunk” it’s all just meant to inform your clients as to what seems to be going on. Unfortunately all too many people are going about this with the misperception that their product is correct in the first place and that they know what they are doing in the second.
Internets Is SERIOUS Business
In the end I just wanted to take the time to call bullshit on a lot of what’s out there today.We have many a charlatan running amok as well as more than a few pathetic individuals living out their super secret agent lives online in hopes that someday they will wake up and it will be real. The real spooks (other than the ones being arrested for leaking and given 10 year sentences) are usually pretty quiet. Others, well they are often making big claims about being all spooky and in the know.. I guess the axiom should be that the quiet ones are the real guys and the shameless self promoters are.. Well, not.
That especially means you zan.pklvnxwiin.fxh
For the most part though, I have to give credit to the 4chan’ers for starting the meme of “Internet is serious business” because it really is the case for the most part. Sure there are always larger, more impactful things that come from it, but generally, the internet is all about the lulz. Anyone who deludes themselves that it is in reality really really important should be mocked mercilessly.
Just my two drachma….