Who Fights for the Users? Part II: FBI's AntiSec

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ali-Reza Anghaie


On Tuesday March 13th, in relation to my first installment, I tweeted:

"While you worry about the exploits the bad guys know about, you should also worry about the exploits the "good guys" (Gov) keep secret."

So news and timelines are rampant with speculation that the FBI created the whole of AntiSec as a sting operation. There are a lot of curious things that come out of this:

  • All the other doxs and hacks - not all of it was staged - collateral damage? And how does some of that damage, say the financial fraud out of the STRATFOR hack, play into criminal proceedings? Or people who may have had costs accrued to replace credit cards, pay minor fees against larger fraudulent charges, etc.
  • The FBI / Scotland Yard phone call - staged? Seems more likely if they did create AntiSec. That or the operation was held tightly within a smaller group of FBI. Which also ties into.
  • They ask around - why? Just to push InfoSec professionals and OSINT armchair hobbyists off into the woods to preserve operational security? (There is a Jester tie to that.)
  • How many contracts, papers, talks, etc. have come out of AntiSec related activities? How much Congressional funding or support? The term Military-Industrial Complex - and all the political implications - comes to mind.
  • How much cover was provided to other Nation-State and Non-State Actors in the AntiSec umbrella and Anonymous as a whole as a result of such a thing?
  • The lists goes on an on.. where is that alleged Bank of America information from Wikileaks? Related? The Tarnac 9 manifesto that appears in AntiSec and Occupy related events? How about the Symantec source that magically appeared after a few years? How meddlesome did this become in traditional media outlets and "investigative journalism"? What of ProSec? I2P and Tor channels. Conspiracy feeding conspiracy? Where do FOAI requests, FBI National Security Letters - "Hand written" Warrants, etc. fall in all of this? Where does transparency begin again? Should it have ended so abruptly and so widely?

Of course this is all still speculation but it's not the kind that endears you to The People and Private sector as a whole. Is it a self-feeding sort of mechanism? Like those that already wonder if all the homegrown terrorists are being "created" by the FBI and if those people would have really crossed the line otherwise? Is the ability to cross the line when properly resourced enough of a criminal intent? Thought crime much?

Heck... that leads down too many rabbit holes to plot (and a lot of boardrooms and Government offices to boot).

So proponents of an FBI AntiSec already jump up and down that it's not over yet - the FBI was just gathering all random anti-Government hackers into one place - and it's actually a better more comprehensive way?

What? Since when has that worked in traditional domestic terrorism and international terrorism? Why would it work here? Jim, Lone Wolf is Lone Wolf. I'm not sure I see a roadway to consolidation. I've been looking for various publications out of RAND for related data to consider.

On the other hand, lets say that consolidation was partially or even mostly accomplished. Did we do that - and potentially push people over the edge - instead of roping them back in some other way?

Is that our new modus operandi - even the most basic outlier should be given resources and goaded into crossing a line to test their will at all times 24/7? Doesn't that say more about how we treat different people across society as a whole?

Sure it's easy to say we just want all those types of people out of our hair. Except, are you that wholesome and without fault all the time? Who gets to judge? We know it's not always a Jury of Our Peers anymore - Grand Jury indictments not even included. (BTW, check out Harvey Silverglate's resources.)

I'm intentionally going to a further extreme to explore this - yes, conspiratorial. Cans of conspiracy worms get opened and they can't ever be closed. Something Government should strive to avoid - not cultivate.

Even as Clearances expand (all branches and types), and even as a Unified Cyber Command is in development, a majority of people responsible for Security will remain in uncleared and in the Private sector, including outside of the US, and shouldn't be repeatedly exposed to such potential collateral damage.

Again, assuming this is all true and not just a construct by Anonymous to try to outmaneuver the FBI in the Sabu aftermath. Or - as I've said regarding certain geopolitical topics - sometimes you have to choose a side.

Some circles, that I respect greatly, think you shouldn't open your mouth if you don't have a solution. I believe transparency is a solution but I believe transparency has limits.

So I end this second, unplanned, installment the same way I closed the first: I'm not offering a solution, I honestly have conflicted feelings myself, I just think it's well past time to more openly and thoroughly discuss this evolving ruleset. And I don't think wanting to discuss it should make you an Enemy of The State either - as some Twitter timelines suggest.

Cross-posted from Packetknife's Space and you can follow Ali-Reza on Twitter.

Possibly Related Articles:
Government FBI Anonymous Hacktivist Law Enforcement Lulzsec AntiSec OSINT Sabu Sting counter-terrorism
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Krypt3ia Conspiracies... Fodder for Cloak&Swagger....
Ali-Reza Anghaie That's not a ~good~ thing for the overall development of the cyber base, economy, freedom, or innovation. The Government feels like it's in their best interest to feed the lack of transparency w/ additional sub-plots. This doesn't end well. -Ali
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