Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yes We Can!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Anonymous to FBI and CIA: "You've been PUNK'D!"

Oh man, this has got to hurt any "intelligence" bureaucrat's ego:
Hackers claiming affiliation with Anonymous are taking credit for taking down the CIA's public site, exposing personal data from Alabama court records and pilfering e-mails from the Mexican mining agency, according to news reports. Other hackers hit the United Nations' site.

The CIA main site (cia.gov) is unavailable and apparently has been down for several hours as the result of a distributed-denial-of-service attack. A spokesman told CNN the agency was "looking into these reports." There's no indication hackers penetrated CIA computers or accessed sensitive information.

Anonymous announced the feat in a tweet. More here.
This comes just days after Anonymous allegedly hacked into the FBI's internal e-mail system, in which they found instructions for dialing into a conference call taking place between the FBI and Scotland Yard related to--and get this--anti-hacking investigations:
The hacking collective Anonymous managed to listen in on a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard as the law enforcement officers were discussing anti-hacking operations, the FBI admitted today. 

Calling it "OpInfiltration," Anonymous members were allegedly able to steal a personal email which included instructions for dialing into the Jan. 17 private call. Today the group published a recording of the call -- which discussed the timing of planned arrests and identities of suspected hackers -- as well as the email addresses of the officials on it. 

In the call, a Scotland Yard official discusses a few suspected hackers in particular, including a 15-year-old that the official calls "an idiot" and another that's "just a pain in the bum." 

"Listen along, and laugh out loud at the law enforcement agents bumbling away," a description posted along with the recording said.
I'm no expert in computer hackery. My knowledge of computer hardware and software is pretty much limited to all that I really need to know to do what I want to do using a computer. But I have to wonder how much these feats are genuinely attributable to hacking skills and how much might be the result of people inside these government bureaucracies lending Anonymous a helping hand. There just may be some in those agencies who have axes to grind that may not even ideological in nature. Such a person could be sick and tired of being passed over for a promotion, or perhaps they're someone who's been warning these agencies for years of security deficiencies in their internal networks but were consistently ignored, so now they're going to teach their superiors a lesson, so to speak. There could be a variety of reasons for some FBI and/or CIA worker to turn into a "disgruntled employee."

But however Anonymous is able to do this, they are clearly making these government agencies look like confederacies of dunces. For decades we Americans have been conditioned to think that whether one may think of them as sinister, benign or heroic, the FBI and CIA are impenetrable, superhuman bureaucracies whose security simply cannot be breached. Of course even a brief overview of the critical literature reveals this perception to be a complete myth, but fortunately for the Washington consensus, most Americans don't read very much.

But they do pay at least some fleeting attention to the mainstream news outlets and they will see, at least for a moment, how these allegedly all-powerful central bureaucracies are really just as flawed and vulnerable as other forms of human organization, even more so. When you're able to fund your operations by means of mass theft and intimidation rather than by competing for patrons who are free to take or leave your services, you're bound to have lots and lots of blind spots.