A kraken, enraged

Paul Raven @ 17-02-2011

This Ars Technica rundown of the whole HBGary Federal vs. Anonymous/Wikileaks thing is really quite astonishing for a whole number of reasons, not least the staggering hubris and chutzpah of Aaron Barr, but there’s also the comparative ease with which Anonymous nailed Barr to his own mizzen. Maybe it’s just me, but the subtext I get from the whole business is that Barr’s desire to “take down” Anonymous stems from a sort of envy and admiration of them; funnier still are the communications between Barr and his pet programmer, who makes no bones about telling Barr he’s walking out onto very thin ice indeed.

Most astonishing of all (though hardly news in this day and age) is the staggering amount of money that shadowy and largely unaccountable outfits like can charge government agencies for work that neither party fully understands or – more importantly – wants the general public to know about. And as Chairman Bruce points out, there’s probably a whole lot more operations just like it that we never get to hear about:

The question now is, do people stumble over the truth here and just sort of dust themselves off and traipse away sideways — or are there more shoes to drop? The furious and deeply humiliated lawyers at HBGary ought to have enough federal clout to pursue their Anonymous harassers and nail them to the barn like corn-eating crows — after all, they claimed they know who they are, and that’s why they got savagely hacked in the first place.

However — are HBGary gonna be able to carry out that revenge attack with their usual discretion — the shadowy obscurity with which they help deny climate change and break labor unions for the Chamber of Commerce? It’s like watching a shark fight a school of ink-squirting squids.

Normally, one never sees a submarine struggle like this. If it does happen to surface, it gets cordially ignored, or ritually dismissed as a sea-monster story. But boy, this one sure is leaky.

Things are getting very permeable of late, aren’t they?


Placebo buttons

Paul Raven @ 09-11-2010

Powerful thing, the placebo effect; it doesn’t just work (with increasing efficacy) with sugar pills for all your ills, but with the “close door” buttons in elevators, the “I want to cross the road” buttons at pedestrian crossings, the thermostats of office climate control systems

… makes you wonder what else we’re being placebo’d with, doesn’t it? The anarchist in me can’t resist pulling out the first comment from the SlashDot thread where I found the above links:

I keep voting and nothing new happens.

Uh-huh.


Windshield handbills as computer virus vector

Paul Raven @ 05-02-2009

windscreen flyerThey may be vampiric bastards, but you’ve got to give malware builders their due – they’re cunning and inventive. They’ve found a new way to get people to sign in to a website that will infect their computer with a virus: stick a handbill on their car with a URL on it.

Several days ago, yellow fliers were placed on the cards in Grand Forks, ND. They stated:

PARKING VIOLATION This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to [website-redacted]

Now that’s some crafty social engineering right there; find an approach that people have no historical reason to mistrust, and exploit a common fear. Bam – brand new bot-net. I suppose it’s too much to hope that this indicates normal email spam is becoming less effective…

Now, think of all the vectors for this sort of attack that become available once we’re all wandering through a world of ubicomp around draped in Personal Area Networks. [story via SlashDot; image by dewet]