Barrgate and a Bad Case of the Stupids: US Gov’t Cyber Security

Posted on 10/02/2011 by

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As the information recovered by Anonymous from the HBGary monkey farm gets digested by the world, some very interesting things are being revealed. I would like to say on the onset, that this large amount of information should be ranked in the same department as Cablegate.

[EDIT 11.02.2011}

New release: 2.25 Gigs of pure goodness.

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Now, let me be clear: these leaks (Barrgate, anyone?) are not the idiotic outputs of a one little company trying to make it big, but rather a glimpse into the inner workings of the US government. This is for a very simple reason: the US government relies upon private organisations, like HBGary, to advise it on matters of ‘national cyber security’. There is effectively no separation, in any systemic sense, between the USG proper, and corporations like HBGary. If you don’t believe me, please review where Timmy Geithner, Hank Paulson, Jr, and Larry Summers last worked.

So if you don’t want to believe that HBGary is best considered as an arm of the corporatist USG complex, then GTFO and go watch Fox News.

Returning to Barrgate, I think it is best to keep something critical in mind: when we read ‘the WikiLeaks threat‘, this is not just HBGary trying to sound like it collectively has cojones. Rather, they are plugging into a larger system, and in order to do so, they are adopting the phraseology and ideology of that system. These are the attitudes which are presently flowing through the USG; corporations, like HBGary, are part and parcel of those attitudes. They augment the incompetence of the USG with expert incompetence.

As Greg ‘Imma Bigshot’ Hoglund frantically stated, perhaps in an effort to distract news organs from the fact that Anonymous had acquired the source code for all of HBGary’s security products, “we try to protect the US government from hackers. They couldn’t have chosen a worse company to pick on”. Au contraire, bozo: the efforts of Anonymous, in the successful pursuit of lulz, have created Barrgate. They couldn’t have picked an easier, more elucidating, and thoroughly-deserving-everything-they-got target, and gotten the same bang for their SQL Injection buck. With solemn thanks for their great efforts, let’s take a little walk down the garden path, into the US government’s cyber-security fantasy world.

Now, in this world, you must remember one thing: it is not that the USG complex is looking for discerning right from wrong, accurate from inaccurate. It has already made those distinctions. WikiLeaks, for example, is absolutely and without question a threat to national security – the ‘WikiLeaks Threat’ presentation might as well have called it a high-tech terrorist organisation. The only interest which the USG complex is interested in, is discovering how right it really is.

Consider the situation which Glenn Greenwald: it is not that he is suspected of being critical to WikiLeaks, but rather that he is critical. Therefore he is a target needing to be ‘attacked’, as ‘Superspy’ Barr said in the first draft of the presentation. Frankly, HBGary might have well come out and called Mr Greenwald a terrorist sympathiser, or even just a terrorist. Regarding Mr Greenwald and WikiLeaks: “[if] this level of support… [were] disrupted… [then] without the support of people like Glenn wikileaks (sic) would fold”.

The logical thread is generally as follows: 1) WikiLeaks doesn’t do what the USG demands, therefore it is a threat; 2) people who are part of WikiLeaks are threats; 3) people who have influence must move against WikiLeaks in order to be non-threats; and finally 4) those who have influence but use it in support of WikiLeaks are threats.

What we see is a form of cyber bullying on steroids: it is a programme of singling out those people with whom the USG complex does not agree, and then trying to bully them into silence. Unlike the typical cyber bully, though, the USG complex has no rules, because it makes the rules. So when it decided to bully someone into silence because it doesn’t like what they say, there is no legal recourse for those people to defend themselves.

This is an insane world of trolling IRC/Facebook and scribbling down Nixonian ‘enemies lists’ whilst pretending to “Work for Anonymous”. The scary thing is that everyone is on the enemies list, because if one’s ‘threat’ level is defined by being supportive in some vague and idiosyncratic manner, everyone is guilty. An off-hand comment on AnonOps gets your name on ‘Superspy’ Barr’s ‘Leaderz List’, and before you know it, the FBI is going all PATRIOT Act on your life.

In the words of Jacob Applebaum, “I wonder if they think I work with Anon because I have a Guy Fawkes mask? Idiots.”

Idiots indeed, but dangerous idiots. Imagine the average mall rent-a-cop, and then put him in the position of having the USA PATRIOT Act at his fingertips. Stupidity should be painful, and it often is. Unfortunately in this case, it’s the people who potentially feel the pain, not the idiots.

PS: Anyone hear rumours about Aaron ‘Superspy’ Barr’s supersecret fake account on Facebook? I’ve gotten a name, just checking to see if anything else has come up.

[EDIT 10.02.2011]

The firm Palantir has publicly disowned its cooperation with HBGary, and Aaron ‘Superspy’ Barr by extension. This is a complete validation of Barrgate! This shows that the Anonymous-released information is completely accurate.

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