Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Banking sector moves to shore up cyber defences

Bag of money
The UK banking industry will be backed by a new cybersecurity testing environment that could protect its institutions from current and future threats.
The network was introduced by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and is dubbed CBEST. The BBA said that the testing environment has been built with support from the security industry.
The BBA said that the system could be used to test a bank's ability to withstand a range of security attacks. Earlier this year, the Bank of England expressed concerns about local institutions and their ability to cope with crime.
Executive director for resolution at the Bank of England, Andrew Gracie said: ""The idea of CBEST is to bring together the best available threat intelligence from government and elsewhere, tailored to the business model and operations of individual firms, to be delivered in live tests, within a controlled testing environment.
"The results should provide a direct readout on a firm's capability to withstand cyber-attacks that on the basis of current intelligence have the most potential, combining probability and impact, to have an adverse impact on financial stability."
This is hugely encouraging progress and something that organisations in other sectors should be emulating according to Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm.
"Unfortunately we've reached a point where it is a case of when, not if, an organisation suffers a breach, and spending time and money trying to prevent it from happening is verging on useless. While cyber attackers are merrily making their way into our networks, we're far too focussed on updating anti-virus and tweaking firewalls to notice," he said.
"It's now time to accept this as fact and focus on detecting and responding to the threats when they occur. The financial sector is certainly upping the ante in the fight against cybercrime and once the right tools are in place, all businesses will hopefully start following its lead."
According to the security firm McAfee cybercrime costs industry as much as £266bn a year as the threats posed to businesses in all sectors rises all the time as witnesses by a spat of recent hacks on well-known businesses.

Central Intelligence Agency joins Twitter and Facebook

Sneak finally has some decent people to talk to on his social networking accounts, the venerable chaps, and ladies, at the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA to close friends.
Sneak is often found to be on the receiving end of a mute or blocking order, he hopes that the new social CIA will embrace him and his own brand of unclassified disclosure.

Certainly it looks like the CIA is open to the social experience and it has promised to share outwards. Sneak hopes that it will be equally open to responses.
While looking at the CIA account Sneak realised that other people have the same hope, and he noticed that a chap called @Wikileaks has promised to respond to official disclosures with some of its own. Sneak is looking forward to that.

However, while he is hoping for messages that are juicy like so many peaches, the truth is probably - and this is often the case - that things will be very boring indeed.
Take the CIA on Facebook. Sneak was expecting to see a video of a monkey sniffing something, a picture of some lunch, or hell, even a selfie, but none of that is in place. Instead there is a message that promises no fun at all.
"CIA welcomes your comments, however we wish to maintain the decorum appropriate to a taxpayer-funded organisation, we will moderate, and delete as necessary, comments deemed inappropriate. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the author(s) being blocked from this page without notice," it says in a cat-free early post.
"Do not post graphic, obscene, sexually explicit or racially offensive comments or content. We also will not tolerate comments that are abusive, hateful, slanderous or that are intended to defame anyone or any organisation. All content must be unclassified. Do not post any content that may be considered classified, sensitive, or that would cause immediate and undue harm to a person or organisation."

US traces Putter Panda malware to China

The Putter Panda malware has been traced to China
A US security firm has accused the Chinese government of conducting a sophisticated cyber espionage campaign against US and European businesses, in another revelation that will further strain relations between the two nations.
Crowdstrike published a detailed report on Monday in which it revealed its research into a malware called ‘Putter Panda’ that was found spying on high-tech firms involved in space, aerospace and communications industries.
It traced the malware right to the heart of China, in a building in Shanghai that Crowdstrike said was likely being run by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 3rd Department 12th Bureau Unit 61486.
Crowdstrike outed a man named Chen Ping, aka 'cpyy', as being a member of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who was responsible for buying domains associated with Putter Panda.
Crowdstrike said the attacks targeted organisations' work through popular business tools such as Adobe Readers and Microsoft Office to deploy custom malware via email.
Crowdstrike CEO George Kurtz wrote that its findings was yet more proof the Chinese government was fully complicit in the hacking of Western industries, and proved the US was right to file charges against state officials last month.
“China’s decade-long economic espionage campaign is massive and unrelenting. Through widespread espionage campaigns, Chinese threat actors are targeting companies and governments in every part of the globe,” he said.
"Targeted economic espionage campaigns compromise technological advantage, diminish global competition, and ultimately have no geographic borders."
In response, a member of China's foreign ministry dismissed the allegations and repeated the line that the US is far more guilty of cyber hacking than China.
"The United States cannot pretend that it is the victim. They are a hacker empire. I think everyone in the world knows this," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
The latest research echoes a similar report by security firm Mandiant that traced another hacker group to Shanghai.
The US recently filed charges against five Chinese PLA officials in response to the Mandiant report. In response, China said it would start vetting Western technology and accused the US of hypocrisy in light of the Snowden spying revelations.

Win Hacker Training Worth $6000

We’re sure you’ve heard that our friends at Parameter Security have put together a great speaker lineup for ShowMeCon 2014 in St. Louis from May 5 – 6 that includes Dave Chronister, Adrian “IronGeek” Crenshaw, Wayne Burke, Jayson E. Street, John Matherly, Kevin Cardwell, Aamir Lakhani, Benoxa, Robert Reed, and Paul Coggin with keynotes by Evan “treefort” Booth, Andy Ellis, Ralph Echemendia and Raphael Mudge. These experts will tackle a variety of specialized topics such as hacking mobile devices, cloud computing, leveraging mobile devices in pen tests, cryptanalysis, how the most protected systems can be breached, defending your systems, forensics and more at this cutting-edge, two day con. ShowMeCon 2014 also features a CtF event. But in addition to being a quality con, they are also hosting training courses to be held just before the event with coverage of Network Defense, CISSP, Forensics, Ethical Hacking, Intro to PowerShell as well as a course on Advanced Mobile, WiFi and Network Hacking.
EH-Net has worked it out with the organizers of ShowMeCon 2014 to offer 3 Free Training Seats worth up to $6000 to top contributors. As we’ve done in the past, all you have to do is start posting in our Community Forums , spread the word on Twitter, join our LinkedIn Group… get involved. Suggest helpful hints, help a newbie, offer great career advice… anything you can think to share with the community is a chance to win. Participation will be tracked and the winners announced on April 4. Each of 3 winners will get their pick of one course offered at the event as well as entrance into the con for a great week of hacking education. More details after the break. Good luck!!

Courses at ShowMeCon 2014

Courses include Award-Winning Instructors certified in what they teach, lunch every day, snack and coffee during breaks, official courseware, Lifetime Membership to Hacker University, a Complimentary Pass to the Two Day ShowMeCon Conference, access to the Conference Welcome Reception & After Parties and more. Further details on each course and what is included can be found on the ShowMeCon 2014 Training Page. Winners are responsible for their own travel, hotel and other expenses.

Even if you don’t win one of the prizes above, you still get rewarded for being an EH-Netter. All of our readers get a 5% discount for training classes AND admission to the con with Coupon Code: EHNSMC14.

ShowMeCon 2014 - Logo with Arch and Info

About ShowMeCon 2014 (See Listing in EH-Net’s Global Calendar)

After much success last year, Parameter Security and Hacker University are once again hosting the premier hacking and offensive cyber security conference in St. Louis. Last year’s event, TakeDownCon, was a big hit. We’ve changed the name and today, we announce ShowMeCon in May!
ShowMeCon. The name says it all. Known as the Show Me State, Missouri is home to St. Louis-based ethical hacking firm, Parameter Security, and security training company, Hacker University. Together, they are bringing you a one-of-a-kind event that will Show You the State of security from a unique perspective – the hacker’s viewpoint.
This highly technical forum showcases eye-opening presentations from world-renown ethical hackers and epic security ninjas which will leave you amazed and frightened at the same time. By giving you access into the mind of a hacker, you will better understand how to protect your networks and critical data. As we always say “In order to beat a hacker, you have to think like one” and “if you don’t understand the enemy, how can you protect against him?” ShowMeCon pulls back the curtain and exposes how hackers are winning the war on physical and cyber security.
In addition to witnessing real-world hacks, experts will tackle a variety of specialized topics, such as hacking mobile devices, cloud computing, leveraging mobile devices in pen tests, cryptanalysis, how the most protected systems can be breached, defending your systems, computer forensics and more. Discover the latest vulnerabilities, the most powerful exploits and current security threats at this cutting-edge, two day con. Plus, partake in our “capture the flag” event and take your best shot at hacking into various environments.
Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, you should attend this mind-blowing event as you witness the cream of the crop unveil the latest attacks, techniques, tactics and practices of today’s hackers. Plus, gain insight and understanding into ways to effectively protect yourself so you can implement this information immediately when you return to your business.
Preceding the conference is a five day training bootcamp (April 30 – May 4) hosted by Hacker University that will offer various technical training and security certification classes including, but not limited to: Certified Ethical Hacker v8 (CEH), Certified Hacking Forensic Investigator v8 (CHFI), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Advance Network Defense.
ShowMeCon will be held at the Ameristar Casino & Resort in St. Charles, Missouri. For more information on the conference, training bootcamps and exhibitor/sponsorships, please contact us at info (at) showmecon (dot) com. To register for the conference, please click here.
So get inside the mind of a hacker…We’ll Show You at ShowMeCon!

CyberBerkut Attempt to Alter Ukrainian Election (Brian Yates)

A computer hacking group called CyberBerkut attempted to alter the Ukrainian presidential election. They did so by having an administrator at the Central Election Commission (CEC) plant a virus from an internal computer that granted the hackers access. Victor Yagun of the Security Service of the Ukraine held a press conference announcing the cyber attack. The main target of CyberBerkut was the election analytic system that aggregates voter data. Altering the information would have created a different winner in the recent Ukrainian election for president. Destroying the data would have created the illusion of election fraud. Yagun also reported an employee of the CEC, who provided the hacking group with internal access, was also detained. Volodymyr Zverev, head of the State Service for Special Communication and Information Security, said the virus released by CyberBerkut destroyed all the internal data of the CEC servers on May 22. The virus was released inside CEC by someone able to log into the network and open email containing the virus. The compromised data collected by CyberBerkut included personal emails of CEC members and technical documents on the operation of CEC's election analytic system. All of the lost data was restored from a backup server by 4 pm on May 22. Evidence pointing to an inside source stemmed from tracking where the virus first infiltrated the CEC network. The login information for a CEC computer showed a person used the correct username and password on the first attempt. Zverev blamed Kaspersky antivirus software for its failure to recognize the virus. Kaspersky Lab is a Russian software firm. A spokesperson from the company said Kaspersky Lab was ready to investigate the recent cyber attack and write programming to help prevent such an incident from happening again. Mykhailo Okhendovsky, the CEC director, said in a press conference the network is operational and will continue running. The CEC's election analytics system functioned normally after it was restored from the backup server. Okhendovsky said if there are any failures, the CEC will not hide the problem. His organization will speak openly about them. The computer hacking group called CyberBerkut took credit in the attempt to alter the Ukrainian presidential election. The group claimed it had infiltrated CEC's digital infrastructure and disabled the election analytics system. The group also claimed it had uploaded personal emails of CEC officials. They also collected the technical specifications from the analytic system that aggregates voting data. On the hacking group's website, they stated they could now access the CEC communications system anytime they wished. Maxim Savanevskiy, of Watcher.com.ua, said CyberBerkut's hacking of CEC inflicted no major damage. The main problem seemed to have been an internal source granting the hackers access from within. Once the passwords to vital programs are changed, access to outside sources would be eliminated. Victoria Siumar, the deputy National Security and Defense Council Secretary said the problem with hackers goes back to the previous pro-Russian Yanukovych administration. Members from that government may have programmed the CEC computers with built-in vulnerabilities to assist hackers in gaining backdoor access into the network. It would not be the first time former President Yanukovych faced such allegations. In 2004, his allies rigged the presidential election in his favor. Their plan included a similar hacking system that exploited access to a data transit server. With cyber attacks on individuals, businesses, and government institutions on the rise, the Security Service of the Ukraine and members of the CEC were lucky to be able to find the perpetrators. Losing or altering vital election data during an election would have meant a disaster and cries of fraud. The attempt by CyberBerkut to alter the Ukrainian presidential election could have created a different result that would have added further turmoil in the region.

Is Anonymous Dead, or Just Preparing to Rise Again?

Photo: Jon Snyder/WIRED

The hacker collective Anonymous and its factions LulzSec and AntiSec drew widespread attention between 2008 and 2012 as they tore loudly through the internet ruthlessly hacking websites, raiding email spools, exposing corporate secrets and joining the fight of the 99 percent. The groups seemed unstoppable as they hit one target after another, more than 200 in all by the government’s count. It seemed no one was beyond their grasp.
But then all went quiet.
The group was undone in part by Hector Xavier Monsegur, an Anonymous leader and government informant known online by the nom de hack Sabu, who was arrested in 2011 and quickly turned against his cohorts, helping the government arrest several key members in 2011 and 2012. Since then, aside from a couple of recent actions by Anonymous, such as Operation Last Resort, which targeted the U.S. Sentencing Commission and MIT websites to protest the unusually harsh prosecution of internet activist Aaron Swartz, and the recent leak of documents taken from Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, Anonymous has gone silent for the most part.
Those who have followed the movement closely say Sabu’s role in the arrest of Jeremy Hammond and others has had a chilling effect on Anonymous, causing members to lay low and worry if additional informants are lurking among them. But experts also warn that the sporadic nature of Anonymous activities is inherent in its makeup, and the group can be easily reconstituted and revitalized in an instant.
“It may never come back, but I wouldn’t count on it,” says Mark Rasch a former federal cybercrimes prosecutor and now chief privacy officer at SAIC. “Don’t throw away your Guy Fawkes masks just yet.”
Anonymous, he notes, is like a flash mob: It appears suddenly, acts quickly, then disappears. As long as the movement can attract new members, the arrests of former ones will have little affect on its survival.
“It’s not like you throw them in jail and they disappear,” he says. “It’s sort of like squeezing Jell-O. It just moves somewhere else.”
But while the amorphous, incognito nature of Anonymous is its strength it’s also a weakness in that maintaining strict and constant anonymity at the individual level is difficult to do and can lead to burnout as well as mistakes that expose members to arrest.
There’s also a basic conflict between the need to maintain constant anonymity while also establishing the kind of meaningful relationships with fellow Anons that make the movement effective.
“It’s extremely hard to … interact with people closely and have to hide yourself,” says Gabriella Coleman, a McGill University anthropologist who is one of the leading experts on Anonymous and whose book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous publishes later this year.
“You’re not supposed to reveal much about yourself, but there is a kind of desire to connect and get to know each other,” she says. “Clearly if you do, you’re going to get in trouble. And if you don’t, over a period of time it gets exhausting. [Anonymous is] configured in such a way that it’s not ideal for its own social reproduction. But it’s ideal for its reinvention later.”
Photo: Bryan Derballa/WIRED

The Birth of Anonymous

The birth of Anonymous itself was sporadic and amorphous. It took form over several years, beginning around 2006 on the popular 4chan message board and in Internet Relay Chat channels. The initial group, if it could be called that, lacked the intensity and political fervor Anonymous later became known for, but drawing attention to their activities was one of their trademarks from the start.
The first Anons were in it for the lulz–simple amusement. In one of their first pranks they disrupted the virtual Habbo Hotel, an online hangout for teenagers, with a kind of denial-of-service revolt. They flooded the hotel with Afro-sporting avatars resembling “sharply dressed disco dancers” and blocked access to the hotel’s pool, according to Parmy Olson, who charted the rise of Anonymous and its splinter groups in her book We Are Anonymous.
The group’s focus turned to more serious matters in 2008 with Operation Basement Dad, in which members also got their first taste of widespread attention. The group created the @basementdad Twitter account in response to reports that Josef Fritzl, an Austrian man, had imprisoned and raped his daughter in the family’s basement for 24 years. Although the Twitter account was created just for laughs, it drew nearly half a million followers before Twitter shuttered the account.
But the group really got notice that same year when it took on the Church of Scientology after the church pressured YouTube into deleting a leaked video of an impassioned Tom Cruise extolling the church’s power and influence. Driven in part by reports that the church brainwashed members and punished those who challenged or questioned its dogma and leaders, Anonymous launched Project Chanology, a massive campaign against Scientology, beginning with DDoS attacks against its websites. The campaign, however, also moved offline with protests held outside Church of Scientology facilities and popularized two of the Anonymous memes that would become the group’s hallmarks: YouTube videos announcing their intentions using a computerized voice and the tagline “We are Anonymous; We are Legion” and the grinning Guy Fawkes mask members wore in public.
Just as Anonymous gained mainstream notice, however, it seemed to disappear. Little was heard from the group again until 2010, when Anonymous defended the cause of file-sharers with DDoS attacks aimed at the Motion Picture Association of America and others. But the move that really got the group attention was Operation: Payback (.pdf), a series of DDoS attacks against PayPal, Visa and MasterCard for their refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks after the site began publishing the leaks of Chelsea Manning.
When WikiLeaks drew attention to the DDoS attacks, interest in Anonymous grew exponentially. Participation on the public channel where members and spectators communicated jumped tenfold from 700 to 7,000 people, Coleman says.
But with the group’s new focus came conflict. The initial plan to support WikiLeaks only called for creating a mirror of the organization’s server and site. But then some in the group launched the DDoS against PayPal. This angered other members, who argued that the protocol for voting on the group’s actions had been breached, Coleman says. Some factions within the loosely affiliated collective developed a “hunger for leaking and hacking,” creating further division. The schism prompted the creation of AnonOps, a platform for organizing and managing different operations that was serviced by technical teams who provided support for the various operations.
The division in interests came into sharp relief in 2011 with the hacks of HBGary and HBGary Federal, which occurred around the same time that AnonOps was actively supporting the social revolutions of the Arab Spring. When some members, surprised by the ease with which HBGary was hacked, wanted to hack other corporations for amusement and for the purpose of exposing their poor security, it became clear that this kind of recreational hacking had to be separated from the political activism that was increasingly becoming the mark of Anonymous and AnonOps. Out of this division Lulzsec was born.
“The name Anonymous had become so synonymous with political activity, even if it was quite subversive and chaotic,” says Coleman. “[But] they started accessing data that had no political message. Lulzsec became the banner of doing it just for the laughs or for exposing bad security. Most of them were quite serious about their political causes, but also just loved to hack for the heck of it.”

Sabu’s Reign

Anonymous was a loose collective with a decentralized command and leadership that fell to whomever had the skills or personality to seize it. Hector Monsegur, an experienced hacker who never finished high school, had both.
Monsegur, as “Sabu” had been part of a faction that, among other things, supported social revolutionaries in the Middle East. But he also had a hidden history of hacking for fun and, occasionally, profit–something that recently came to light in court documents. And so in May 2011 he shifted his attention from political activism to corporate and government hacking through LulzSec, which he founded with five others and led from his apartment in a public housing complex on New York’s Lower East Side.
Over 50 days, the group targeted media outlets, government agencies and private companies in an ongoing campaign that included a headline-grabbing hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. During this time, Monsegur was a brash and bold leader who boasted loudly about LulzSec’s activities over Twitter.
“For many people he was a very symbolic figure. Although Anonymous claimed to have no leaders, it definitely had celebrities. Sabu was probably one of the biggest,” says Olson.
Offline, Monsegur was an unemployed, 28-year-old who bore the difficult responsibility of tenderly caring for two little girls, his cousins, who were left on their own after their mother was jailed.
But online, as Sabu, he was a temperamental man who was charismatic and friendly but was also feared as much as he was loved, Olson says. He regularly used his influence to his advantage.
“People loved giving vulnerability information [about web sites and servers] to LulzSec because they might get a pat on the head from Sabu,” Olson says.
The LulzSec logo.
The LulzSec logo.
But Sabu’s reign didn’t last long before it unraveled.
Aided by hackers who “doxxed” him by leaking information about his identity online the feds came knocking on his door on June 7, 2011 asking questions. Monsieur quickly admitted his guilt, although he hadn’t yet been charged with any crimes, and even confessed to criminal activity the feds didn’t know about. According to court documents, he flipped immediately and was already helping investigators target his cohorts the next day.
Rumor spread that he’d been arrested–fueled in part by his online disappearance for 24 hours after the feds seized his computers and by the previous doxxing. But despite this, many in the community were in denial and resumed their communication with him once he re-appeared.
“The people in Anonymous are not hackers,” Olson says. “They’re just young people getting swept up in this with no real understanding of hacker culture and the fact that informants are a huge part of hacker culture.”
This, she says, was their undoing. “I think that part of the reason it fell so quickly is that it was built on this superficial foundation of believing in this cause, but not really understanding the risks and consequences the way perhaps people who had spent years in hacker culture and hacker communities would have understood.”
Not long after Sabu returned online, members of LulzSec decided to disband their group. In the vacuum created by this decision, a new group named AntiSec formed to take its place. Sabu announced the change in a tweet sent on June 25, 2011: “We are working under the #antisec flag now gentlemen. LulzSec will live on forever as a successful operation. Much love to all.”
Monsegur, fully in charge of this new group whose work was now being directed by the feds, led AntiSec in a series of new hacks, including the December 2011 breach of the private intelligence firm Stratfor that resulted in thousands of the company’s emails being leaked online.
The hacking campaign continued for nine months until Fox News publicly exposed Monsegur in March 2012 in a story identifying him as an informant. Confirmation of what many had suspected for a long time hit Anonymous hard.
“That’s when people stopped going on the IRC channel. It was like tumbleweeds [in there],” Olson says. “People just became paranoid. They realized they couldn’t really trust anyone in Anonymous anymore.”
Three months after becoming an informant, when speculation about his work with the feds was still just that, Monsegur had talked about the possibility of being arrested in a phone call with Olson. He told her the feds “have no way to prove where I am or what I’ve done” and said he had no fear of going to jail should he ever be caught.
“If I get caught, I will plead guilty to the charges,” she says he told her. “All these kids want to play hacker, but when they get a visit from the police they all turn over. They would love to get a confession out of me. The truth is that the only way is if they use my kids against me. If they say they’ll take my kids away. I will not assist them. I will go down as a martyr, not a snitch.”
Notably, he also told her, “the FBI gives [informants] immunity to hack. You don’t understand [the] corruption.”
The reference is significant, because the FBI has been accused of using Monsegur to direct Jeremy Hammond and others to hack multiple victims. Hammond, who was convicted of hacking Stratfor, has said Sabu directed him to hack the company and provided a list of other targets.
“It is kind of funny that here they are sentencing me for hacking Stratfor,” Hammond told The Guardian last year, “but at the same time as I was doing that an FBI informant was suggesting to me foreign targets to hit.”
While Hammond was sentenced to ten years, Monsegur was sentenced on May 27 to time served – just seven months – as a reward for the assistance he gave investigators.
Authorities say he helped them nab at least eight of his former colleagues. Hammond’s lengthy sentence, no doubt, is intended to send a message to other hackers that their sentence will be severe if caught. Sabu’s sentence sends a different message, former federal prosecutor Mark Rasch says.
“Once you’re caught, you want to be the first one to testify” against your colleagues, he says. Because once prosecutors have secured the cooperation of one suspect, he says, they won’t be so eager to make deals with others. Sabu’s sentence also suggests that hackers who can provide extensive technical assistance to authorities in the way that Monsegur did stand a greater chance of leniency than run-of-the-mill suspects who have no special skills.
“If you’re caught in a scheme that is sophisticated and difficult for the government to understand, you have a better chance of mitigating your sentence [by providing expertise] than if you’re the average mope getting caught in some kind of criminal enterprise,” he says.
Whatever message the sentences of Hammond and Monsegur send, it remains unclear what long-term effect they will have on Anonymous.
Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka 'Sabu,' leaves Federal Court after having been granted a sentence of time served. Photo: Andrew Gombert/EPA/Corbis
Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka “Sabu,” leaves federal court after having been granted a sentence of time served. 

Where Anonymous Goes From Here

Olson says that Monsegur’s betrayal scarred Anonymous to some degree and has had an effect on it. But she says the movement was also a victim of its own success and notoriety.
“The catch-22 of Anonymous is that for it to be successful, it has to get a lot of attention,” she says. But it also “becomes so much easier to track them when people try to get notoriety.”
She suspects the collective is having trouble finding its footing without new leaders to move it forward. She believes most people are reluctant to expose themselves to the same risks Monsegur did. “Nobody else really had the balls to try, and perhaps rightly so, to fill that leadership vacuum because they could see very plainly that there are huge risks to trying to be a leader, even a symbolic leader,” she says.
The problem lies in part to the fact that the qualities needed to lead Anonymous are antithetical to maintaining anonymity. The job requires someone who is charismatic to inspire people to support a cause, but who also has the skill and discipline to maintain anonymity. It is difficult to master both of these equally.
But Olson cautions against writing off Anonymous. The collective has ebbed and flowed over the years, taking long breaks between attacks.
“I wouldn’t write off their existence completely just because they’ve gone quiet,” she says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Don’t be too quick to write off Monsegur, either, she says. He may well be back. Hacking, Olson says, is a game where people switch sides with some regularity. It’s hard to see Anons welcoming Sabu back, but Olson isn’t ruling out the possibility that he’ll be back in the game in some way.
“The internet has a short memory,” she says, “so a couple of years from now, he can reinvent himself. Who knows what he’ll be doing?”