Sunday, September 9, 2012
Daily Thoughts 09/09/2012
I finished reading We Are Anonymous Inside the World of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyberinsurgency by Parmy Olson. This is focused on true crime. I was more interested in the books content on hacktivism. It focuses on three people mainly, Jake Davis who's identity online is Topiary, Sabu whose real name is Hector Monsegur, and Kayla who is Ryan Mark Ackroyd who were members of Lulzsec.
The action takes place in message boards starting with the network called 4Chan. 4Chan is famous for having generated LOLcats and is an image sharing network. Also, at least according to this book, it is the place of origin for Anonymous. (IRC) Internet Relay Chat rooms provided anonymous places for people to meet. To me, this is amazing.
I don't think any kind of electronic network from computers to telephones is ever completely secure. Care should be used on all forms of electronic communication. Even having a computer monitor turned on makes a person using a computer possibly susceptible to eavesdropping because of the electromagnetic emissions from a monitor.
What I am really interested in is the changes that occurred because of Anonymous in places like Tunisia and Egypt. There is a new book by a Google executive, Wael Ghonim who created a Facebook page on the Egyptian revolution and wrote a book about how computers changed Egypt called Revolution 2.0. While We Are Anonymous includes quite a bit on hacktivism, it is very different than what I was expecting. There is also a very brief mention of some members of Anonymous being involved with the Occupy Movement.
The focus in We Are Anonymous is about security and anti-security, hackers who want "information to be free", and security people who want to protect companies assets. There is quite a bit about copyright, Sony, and Wikileaks in this book. Parmy Olson, the author, also describes denial of service attacks against Paypal, Mastercard, and Bank of America. This again shows how vulnerable electronic banking and online transactions are. The book has a lot of information in it.
There is some use of the phrase "Information Wants to be Free" which has a variety of possible meanings. It is something which I have heard often with different attributions. I can think of free as in open source, free to be recreated, or free as in price. The different meanings make me a bit ambivalent. http://www.rogerclarke.com/II/IWtbF.html
The story also involves Julian Assange and Wikileaks. It also touches on a security company called HBGary Federal. This includes a lot on Facebook. According to the book, HBGary Federal, a company with government ties surveilled people on Facebook. Parmy Olson, the author, shows how careful people need to be when providing information on social networks like Facebook. There were descriptions of prank hacking against people which left them very exposed.
Anonymous, as it is described in this book is very much focused on clashing with surveillance companies, government agencies, and other organizations. I was stunned while reading about Lulzsec's attack on the FBI's computers. What made it even more incredible was the idea that the group did it for the lulz, or as a kind of dark prank. Later in the book, Anonymous has disagreements with Lulzsec.
The story got even more interesting when Lulzsec, briefly takes down the servers of 2600. 2600 has been around for quite a while and has done a lot of work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. http://www.2600.com/covers/01871.gif
Some of the examples in the book, We Are Anonymous are over the top. A lot of the language is imagined conversations in chat rooms between hackers. The writing at times has a surreal quality to it. This is because the author tries to recreate the language used inside chat rooms like BRB-- Be Right Back, lulz, and other in group slang.
At the end of the book, most of the members of a small offshoot of Anonymous, Lulzsec are caught. However, as the book describes it, Anonymous is a large amorphous, quickly changing organization, with lots of secrecy and different groups inside it.
The book has lots of dialogue in it. It also includes extensive notes and sources which often came directly from interviews, there is a timeline of the story in the book, and a glossary with terms. I learned a whole slew of new words and ideas.
The story was informative and intricate. The author, Parmy Olson is the London Bureau chief for Forbes magazine.
I read some more of Madrigal's Magic Key to Spanish today. I am on Chapter 21 right now. I also took some time to look up some words in Harper Collins Spanish English Dictionary.