Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hacker vs Hacker

Besides checking out the reaction of Silver/Gold in the overnight markets to the increased money printing announced by the Bank of Japan (contrary to expectations that the BOJ would injected "only" JPY2 trillion in its emergency operation earlier, the BOJ came out with a stunner, putting in a whopping 7 trillion yen into Japanese money markets), the compelling internet theatre tonight will lie elsewhere.

At 9pm tonight PDT, 5am GMT, the hacker collective Anonymous, which goes under the handle OperationLeakS, will be releasing what they claim are emails and documents which prove "fraud" was committed by Bank of America employees in the foreclosure scandal.

This is the same group we mentioned yesterday who announced they will be taking on the Federal Reserve in this communique.

A source familiar with the story has reported that there "should be a round of emails, then some files, possible some more emails to follow that."

Are they a wingnut group?

Well... this group has delivered some pretty spectacular goods in the past.

The documents should be released This is the same site where Anonymous posted thousands of internal emails from hacked security company HBGary last month. That leak exposed a legally-questionable plot to attack Wikileaks and ultimately led to the resignation of HBGary CEO Aaron Barr.

The story of HBGary is pure hacker espionage, reminiscent of the old MAD magazine Spy vs Spy antics.

HBGary Federal is an "Information Security" contractor. In early February 2011 the company's CEO, Aaron Barr, was quoted in a published article saying that he had identified the leadership of the group Anonymous and planned to disclose their identities at the B-Sides Security Conference in San Francisco.

Anonymous launched a preemptive strike on HBGary. By combining a SQL injection attack with sophisticated social engineering attacks, the group gained access to the company's Web and e-mail servers as well as the Web site, a site also launched by HBGary founder Greg Hoglund.

The attack against the so-called security experts was more than successful. When the day of the B-Sides Security Conference arrived, the most telling display was at Booth 556 where HBGary displayed a simple sign saying that it had decided to remove its booth and cancel scheduled talks by its executives...

What is important to note here is that HBGary's founder, Greg Hoglund, is one of the smartest security folks around - hands down. He's a recognized expert on malware and, literally, wrote the book on rootkit programs. HBGary Federal's customers included the U.S. Department of Defense as well as spy agencies like the CIA and NSA.

He was, however, chump change for Anonymous.

The group accessed tens of thousands of company e-mail messages and published them on the Internet.

The HBGary Federal documents — to Hoglund's surprise, he says — revealed unethical and potentially criminal plans to build a digital-espionage-for-hire business.

Services offered? Blackmail, espionage and data theft.

The plans were conceived in part by HBGary Federal's top executive the aforementioned CEO Aaron Barr, a former U.S. Navy cryptologist. Barr was working in conjunction with two other security companies. In a bit of cloak-and-dagger grandiosity, the firms dubbed their collaboration Team Themis, after a titan of Greek mythology who embodied natural law. Team Themis proposed to electronically infiltrate grass-roots organizations opposed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful Washington lobbying organization.

In a separate and even more legally dubious proposal intended for Bank of America, the group laid out a plan to infiltrate WikiLeaks and intimidate its supporters.

The schemes the security firms came up with were Nixonian in scope and Keystone Kops-like in execution. In a 12-page PDF sent to Hunton & Williams, the Washington law firm representing the U.S. Chamber, Team Themis suggested creating dummy documents and online personae, and scouring social networks such as Facebook for intelligence on their prospective client's most vocal critics. In the proposal for Bank of America, the security firms suggested hacking WikiLeaks itself to expose its sources.

But now the tables have been turned.

Hoglund and his 30-person company are now battling fallout as their plans were exposed. Employees of HBGary and their families have been besieged with hostile phone calls and e-mails, including some death threats, and the company canceled its presentations at the annual RSA cyber-security conference. News sites that cover computer security have plumbed the document dump, turning HBGary and Barr into objects of ridicule. Barr resigned on Mar. 1 and declines to speak publicly about the ordeal.

Tonight Anonymous turns it's attention to Bank of America.

Monday promises to be an entertaining day.



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