July 31, 2013
Book Review – We Are Anonymous
By Mark Wachtler
July 31, 2013. Cyberspace. (ONN) For fans of Anonymous or LulzSec, the recent book We Are Anonymous is a must-read. Your author read it from cover to cover and literally couldn’t put it down. Reading almost like the diary of the inner circle of Anonymous’ leadership, the book was actually written by Parmy Olson of Forbes Magazine. It’s a day-by-day account and a rare look inside the mysterious organization during the peak of their activity.
Thank you to longtime friend and subscriber of Whiteout Press Jeremy G. for tipping us off about this incredibly insightful book. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Anonymous but didn’t know who to ask.
‘We Are Anonymous’ details numerous cyber attacks over a three-year period including Sony, Stratfor, the UK, US, and Libyan governments, Scotland Yard, the CIA, Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, the Church of Scientology, the Vatican, and a many more. It brings the story to life from the inside of Anonymous and LulzSec, straight from the mouths of the young men and women who carried out the missions and made up the core of the two elusive cyber groups.
Aside from being a wonderfully personal account merged together from the interviews and writings of the key members themselves, We Are Anonymous also presents a number of important warnings for computer users, parents and anyone who dares to speak out against government or corporate corruption.
The first and most important is for all of us – Do NOT use the same password for all of your internet accounts! Time and time and time again throughout the book, even the youngest and most inexperienced members of Anonymous could and would hack the various online accounts of targeted individuals. In fact, after reading the book, this author is confident he could break into the Yahoo, Gmail, employer, and possibly even the bank accounts of every reader and subscriber reading this book review. That’s how easy it is. The best, and one of the only ways to protect yourself, is to use different user names and passwords for each internet account.
The second most eye-opening lesson the book teaches is that seemingly every female in the Western world, from 13 to 30, either has X-rated pictures or videos of themselves on their computer, or they’re willing to produce some. Again, time after time, young horny hackers would break into the social media accounts of young ladies and pose as the victim, posting horrifyingly embarrassing posts about them. Most of the time, the victim was humiliated at the thought of their friends, co-workers or even their parents reading the fake posts and was enough to get them to share whatever nude pictures or sex videos they had of themselves. If they didn’t have any, they were unanimously willing to make some for their anonymous cyber-extortionists.
The final take-away from We Are Anonymous is just as surprising as the first two. The world’s governments are almost paralyzed and helpless when it comes to policing against secret, underground hackers like Anonymous. It was only the arrogance and carelessness of the main leaders that brought so many of the groups’ most prolific activists down.
FBI was leading Anonymous
Possibly the most disturbing revelation from the book is that the FBI took charge of the hacker groups when it arrested the New York resident that was the leader of both Anonymous, and the smaller but much more effective, LulzSec. Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu, was secretly working for the FBI as he led dozens of cyber attacks on governments and corporations over a number of months. In fact, one of the most devastating attacks of them all – the attack on CIA-backed Stratfor – was carried out while the US federal government was in charge of Anonymous and LulzSec.
The book cites numerous people connected with the FBI’s inaction that suggest the one and only reason the FBI let so many cyber attacks occur is because they were trying to forge a link between Anonymous and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It would seem the Obama administration is blinded by a single-minded obsession with putting Assange in prison. In the end, there was almost no connection between Anonymous and Assange except for mutual respect and moral support.
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One of the beneficial aspects of being anonymous is that anytime someone tried to ask for or divulge personal details about themselves or anyone else, they were automatically labeled an infiltrator or informant. That unwritten rule made it almost impossible for the mysterious organization’s members to snitch on the others once arrested by authorities. That included the effort by the FBI’s Sabu to identify the main attacker of Stratfor, probably the most accomplished and effective member of the group – aka the Robin Hood of the Internet – Jeremy Hammond.
The book describes the moment Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu, helped the FBI catch Hammond:
‘Sabu might not have stopped the breach, but he did help the FBI identify the person behind the Stratfor attack, Sup_g. He did this by corroborating that Sup_g also went by another nickname, Anarchaos. On December 26, Sabu approached Sup_g online, going perhaps a little over the top in playing the role of the still-outlawed hacker. “Yo yo,” he said. “I heard we’re all over the newspapers. You mother f*ck*rs are going to get me raided. HAHAHAHA.” “Dude it’s big,” said Sup_g. “If I get raided anarchaos your job is to cause havoc in my honor,” Sabu said, subtly dropping Sup_g’s other nickname, anarchaos, and adding a heart – <3 – for good measure. “It shall be so,” Sup_g replied, unaware that he had just implicated himself.”
Anonymous, LulzSec and AntiSec
While the book doesn’t come right out and define the three different hacker groups, it does give an overall sense of each segment. For a quick education, below describes how the cyber hacker movement known as Anonymous is actually made up of three main organizations:
- LulzSec – This is the All Star team of rebel hackers. Made up of no more a dozen people, these were the leaders of Anonymous who segregated themselves off as a separate group called LulzSec to escape the flood of new recruits and constant blur of communications. The name is said to have originated as a typo during a chat room laughing fit. Meaning to type LOL, the individual accidentally typed Lulz. From that point on, the word ‘Lulz’ took on the definition of ‘fun’ or ‘laughs’, as in, ‘for the Lulz of it.’
- Anonymous – This is the nameless, faceless army of hundreds of thousands of cyber activists and hackers around the world who self-identified themselves as members of Anonymous. There are no leaders, hierarchy or home base. Like a swarm of locusts, they move independently and together wherever instinct or the cry of injustice carries them. Opening and closing chat rooms, web sites and social media accounts as they go, authorities always seem to be one step behind them.
- AntiSec – This is the oldest and most focused of the three groups. Just as the ‘Sec’ in LulzSec stands for ‘Security’, it means the same thing in AntiSec, as in ‘anti-security’. Dating back to the dawn of the internet, the world’s first hackers fell into one of two categories. They were either hired by large corporations and governments to protect their computer security, or they were the attackers being protected against. Those who took large sums to protect the rich and powerful became known as ‘white hat hackers’ while those who broke into computer networks for fun, protest or illegal profit were called ‘black hat hackers’. Those 1980’s black hat hackers are today’s ‘AntiSec’ movement, still focused mainly on attacking the white hat security consultants.
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There are a few facts the book We Are Anonymous reveals, including the kid who accidentally started Anonymous. The author calls him, ‘a skinny blond kid from New York City named Christopher Poole.’ As the book details, the 14 year-old Poole was locked out of his favorite Japanese anime chat room when it barred English-speaking users. He copied the site’s code and launched his own clone under a different name. After its launch in 2003, 4chan.net slowly became the unplanned home to Anonymous.
It’s also worth noting that while the six-member LulzSec crew saw 5 of its 6 members arrested, the thousands-strong Anonymous movement is a sort of ‘leaderless resistance’ that will exist as long as governments and corporations continue to deny people knowledge or the right to free expression. As Jake Davis, aka Topiary, one of the six leaders of Anonymous and LulzSec wrote just before his arrest, ‘You cannot arrest an idea.’
Order your own copy of We Are Anonymous right here!
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We Are Anonymous
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