What do you think?
Rate this book
453 pages, Hardcover
First published October 7, 2014
"Half a dozen years ago, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman set out to study the rise of this global phenomenon just as some of its members were turning to political protest and dangerous disruption (before Anonymous shot to fame as a key player in the battles over WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street). She ended up becoming so closely connected to Anonymous that the tricky story of her inside–outside status as Anon confidante, interpreter, and erstwhile mouthpiece forms one of the themes of this witty and entirely engrossing book."
He was one of the first individuals from AnonOps I met “afk” (“away from the keyboards,” in IRC parlance), a pleasure I have since enjoyed on multiple occasions.As far as I know, AFK means “away from keyboard,” as in, “Hey, I’m afk getting a sandwich.” In this aforementioned instance, I would have chosen “IRL” (“in real life”). This little blip caused me to look askance at the whole book; I viewed the misstep as a signifier of the author’s non-native status in the world of online nerdery. Which, I have to say, is seriously fucked up of me.
Anonymous remained hyperactively involved with the Steubenville assault on Twitter, until two teenagers were found guilty of rape in May 2013. One defendant received the minimum sentence: one year in a juvenile correctional facility. The other was sentenced to two years. In November 2013, four Steubenville residents, including the school superintendent, were subsequently charged for covering up evidence of another, earlier rape case, according to the New York Times. The FBI raided Lostutter in June 2013, and he is facing indictment under the CFAA; Noah McHugh was allegedly arrested earlier in February. If convicted, they face much longer prison sentences than the rapists.The same notes that remain rather sickening. What differentiates Hacker Hoaxer is the humanization element—Swarm presents DDoS actions and internet protesters as, well, a swarm; Hacker Hoaxer dissects the mass movement, nearly de-anonymizing Anonymous. The two books are the inverse of the same issue; one takes individuals and presents them as a political movement while the other takes a movement and breaks it down into individuals.
In the botnet world there is an ongoing struggle over who has the most bots, the most bandwidth, and the best-infected machines (university, corporate, and government computers tend to be on better bandwidth).This is, again, simply poor reasoning on my end. My pushback was unfair, and I injured only myself by not accepting the knowledge as proffered. I should not extrapolate; being skeptical or using critical thinking doesn’t mean being dismissive of unrelated information because of a rather pedantic usage differentiation. I have, on more than one occasion, told both clients and friends that the large digital clock on the south end of Union Square in New York is a string of random integers—an art installation representing the random fiat nature of how we label and break down time in the modern era. And while I like my interpretation of the Metronome—as that clock is named—it is, in fact, a clock and there is nothing arbitrary about the digits. C’est la vie.
This competition is so fierce that botnet herders will often try to take over other botnets. On the other side of the fence, law enforcement agencies and individual organizations that are fighting spam also struggle to take over botnets in order to neutralize them. This is not a trivial thing to do. One has to first identify the C&C. If you can figure out where the bots get their commands from, you can join the IRC channel, masquerading as a compromised machine, and wait to receive a command from the botnet herder. If the botnet herder sends an authentication alongside the command, you may have the password necessary to issues commands to the entire botnet yourself.
Thanks to Edward Snowden’s NSA mega-leaks in 2013, we know that in the summer of 2011, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) targetted AnonOps’ communications infrastructure. A GCHQ special unit called the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG)—which also engages in COINTELPRO-type meddling—launched DDoS attacks against Anonymous, calling it them [sic] “OpWealth” and “Rolling Thunder.”Onlookers might, at first blush, call the vigilantism of Anonymous too harsh or unproductive or simply wrong; as a movement they are not choosing to opt-out but instead are facing the mistakes and injustice and unbalanced nature of State authoritarianism:
This was the first known instance of a Western government secretly using DDoS—criminalized in the UK and the US—as a tactic against its own citizens. GCHQ claimed that its operation was a success; the leaked slides boast that as a result of its DDoS os AnonOps’ IRC, “80% of those messaged where [sic] not in the IRC channels 1 month later.” By this time, UK government had already arrested British participants for the same act. One of those arrested, Chris Weatherhead, aka “Nerdo,” was a central and much beloved AnonOps operator. Eventually, he would receive an eighteen-month sentence for his role in the DDoS campaign “Avenge Assange/Operation Payback.” He was not found guilty of engaging in an actual DDoS itself, but of aiding in the operation by running the IRC server. The British government, on the other hand, has faced no sanction for DDoSing activists. The law, clearly, is not applied equally. As Weatherhead put it on Twitter when he read the news: “My government used a DDoS attack against servers I owned, and then convicted me of conducting DDoS attacks. Seriously, what the fucking fuck?”
By telling these characters’ stories, lessons emerge, not through dry edicts but, instead, thought fascinating, often audacious, tales of exploits. Trickster lore may be patently mythic, but it bears remembering that, at one point, it was spun by human hands. My role has been to nudge forward this process of historical and political myth-making—already evident in the routine functioning of an entity constituted by adept artists, contemporary myth-makers, and concocters of illusion.The Guy Fawkes mask—the mask that can cover the hacker, the hoaxer, the whistleblower, or the spy in equal measure—is the modern equivalent of why Robin Hood and his merry men chose to wear gaudy green. Our modern economy is driven by the buying and selling of information about individual preferences, habits, and tastes; choosing to be anonymous—to don the mask—is the same as cloaking yourself in luxury.