tv The Communicators CSPAN August 13, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EDT
>> a look at cyberattacks. there's a new book out and it is called we are a anonymous. inside the hacker world and the global cyber insurgency. it is authored by parmy olson and parmy olson is london bureau chief for "forbes" magazine and she joins us from london. missiles and, if we could start, what is anonymous? >> actually very difficult question to answer. a lot of people see it as a group or an organization. it isn't quite that. if anything it's more of an internet phenomenon or
a movement. many different people, collaborate together online to protest against all sorts of different reasons, and also to harass people sometimes for fun. it comes from a culture, image boards and discussion boards online, and some people see it as a start of a new way of protesting online.
>> how did it begin? >> so, anonymous emerged from something called image portrait. these are discussion boards on websites. and one particular which in 2004, run 2004, 2005 the website became very popular and the greater of the website in force all of its users to be anonymous when they posted comments. a lot of these didn't like it personal with the realize overtime was that when they were stripped of ego and identity and age and gender and all sorts of identified features gratis almost more mysterious powerful collective identity that they could
be part of. over the years, they used that not only for discussion that to work together as a kind of collective force, spamming other websites, often just in form of prank nobody is that to get much more serious direction, particularly after they started attacking the church of scientology in 2008.
>> who are they, parmy olson? >> well, they can be anyone. anybody can be anonymous. young, old. by and large though main for the core constituents of anonymous tend to be young man or young people. there's a misconception about and i must that is a big group of hackers. that really isn't the case in the most part. they are young people of grown up with the internet to understand and it really will have to it. the highways and byways, who understand the subculture of the internet very well. >> parmy olson, you talked about the fact that they have protest or are protesting things. what are they protesting? >> there's all sorts of different things they can use to protest. in the period in which i wrote the book which was between late 2010 and december 2011, even in that short space in time there were many different events that anonymous became a part of and was supporting so they were
supporting the pirate bay because this is a bit torrent piracy site, supporting wikileaks because mastercard, visa and paypal have stopped funding services for wikileaks. supporting the demonstrators in the middle east. oftentimes the most dramatic operations done by people and anonymous are attacks is people who are defending, sorry, who are trying to attack anonymous itself. so when a contract in februar february 2011 gave an interview for the financial times with the ceo said he had identified members of anonymous and its leadership, a group of them went out of this gentleman with vengeance and attacked his servers and so thousands of e-mails and published them online. it was really a devastating attack on his reputation and career. but again, very dramatic when it comes to self-preservation. >> does anonymous still exist
today. are the still anonymous or have they been identified? >> certainly some support is very key organizers with an anonymous have been identified because they have been arrested. the only other time that someone would be identified is if they've been what they call doc by someone else or a viable hacker. but certainly anonymous does to exist. it's one of those things that is very, a new phenomenon in the sense that our new leaders, no structure, know a nation rights. is very much an illustration. it's very nebulous. so people can do it in for two years, three years. some people are in it for a day. so although some of the people are part of a particular generation of anonymous at the time i was writing my book, are still rendered many of them have left and still many more have joined. so people are coming and going all the time.
>> parmy olson is the author of "we are anonymous" and also the london. chief for forbes. parmy olson, who is -- >> one of the key people that i interviewed for the book and he was also pretty much the de facto leader of the splinter group from anonymous called luizsec, a hacking group. they were organizers and anonymous to start with and the kind of found each other to get the private channels used by hackers and press release writers and anonymous and late 20th and early 2011. they form friendships and they created this splinter group called luizsec. he became friends with another key integer in the book called a pure peer-to-peer wasn't so much a hacker as much as he was an entertainer and a great communicator -- and you get a great writer. when these guys were together he was a skilled hacker. they decided that they wanted,
after the event a two-month lull in activity with anonymous they want to do something to inspire anonymous, and create some kind of project that they could get some of their closest collaborate to work together on. they work together on attacking the ip contractor. they felt i was a successful attack in one way that they could do it all over again and they could take it one step further and better and create something anonymous had never seen before. >> what was that next attack? >> they weren't quite sure what they're going to do when they started working together. they thought maybe they would create a chat network of more stable chat network for people and anonymous to collaborate on. that ended up not being needed so they decided let's actually start looking for voters, seeing if we can exploit them. and if we can, let's steal the
date and publicize it under this, under a new name. we won't be anonymous because in anonymous there is this general thought not to attack the media because the media is the message. so let's go after whoever we want. so they started finding volatilities and fox.com, pbs, and an affiliate of the fbi. and they would exploit those one of those and then they would eventually won by one to announce them under this new name, luizsec. it's a -- it means having fun at someone else's expense. so they were doing these things for fun. sometimes they would attack the cause of the. the impression all these attacks have been plan. like some another things had been done by anonymous they weren't really plan. it was these guys being opportunistic, finding or exploiting other people's carelessness.
exploiting that and then attaching a cost to it afterwards. >> so was there a profit motive? was the money involved in these early attacks? >> what i first are writing about anonymous that was one of my first thoughts. i thought there's got to be some kind of darker element here with these hakers will use these communities and networks and tools for financial gains, steal credit card numbers or whatever else. and all the reporting i did on a anonymous, that hardly ever came up. money wasn't a motive for most of these guys. its community, a sense of purpose. sometimes is a sociopolitical point that they want to make or an agenda that they have the. and very rarely do these kind of element come into play. they were accepting donations at one point. really one of the rare moments or instances where finances were a part of what they were trying to do.
>> parmy olson come you said earlier that they worked together. how did they work together? >> they don't meet in person, that's for sure, and occasionally if there's a very strong feeling of trust between two of them to support or two members of anon, they would -- lulzsec, to talk to each other on the phone. from time to time to check on each other. but for the most part they were collaborate on what's known as internet relay chat, the type of real-time chat network. you can choose the network you want to chat on and then you can create chat rooms within that network. very quickly with a few clicks and a few keyboard strokes you can create a secret chat room our public chat room, and if you understand the nuances of how it works, then you can have very kind of dynamic collaborative environment. this is how these guys work. >> so could other people joined the chat room?
was it a hackable chat room or was a very private? >> it was by the for the most part. within the hacker culture and within community is aligned with anonymous, there's often, like i was saying earlier, a lot of drama between supporters, people try to attack each other, find out that persons personal information information. they will go under a false nickname and they will try and make their way through social engine in tactics into a private chat room and use elements of subterfuge to weed out information to do nothing is truly private basically, but they did have various levels of private chat rooms that they used to discuss each other. which again i should point out, there's a huge degree of paranoia that, particularly within the organizers to work with anonymous, the constant fear that they're going to get found out by the police or they're going to get out of coming use of the biggest fear is being outed by another hacker. they can do that pretty well. >> parmy olson, there's another
character in your book, caleb. >> character is not a good way to describe it. although halo was an interview in the sense i was into thing this person by e-mail and the internet relay chat. this person from the beginning was pronouncing himself as a 16 year-old girl hacker. it just completely going with that store and have ever allow that back story attached to that persona, so when asked them about their lives and their backs toward, they talked about growing up in the countryside with a single parent father, finding friends in the online world teaching herself to pack, having guys who were kind of slightly perverted in terms of the way they're dealing with her online really all these different details about her life, and never denying the fact that that was the true person that she was, kind of sticking with that story.
although it seemed very implausible a kind of went along with interviews and just tease out as much information as they could about the real person behind that persona as a good. if anything it was a great illustration of the inability of people that some people have to manipulate perception on the internet. and i think that is illustrate even in a broader sense what anonymous was doing, creating disillusioned that it was this malevolent activating organization or very powerful organization went off and it was lots of small groups of people working together, wrapping themselves in a collective identity and amplifying their message on that platform. >> you write in "we are anonymous" since 2008, anonymous has destroyed servers, stolen e-mails, taken websites off-line but but in the collective act of social engineering, its greatest feat was in getting people to believe in the power of its pipeline.
>> yes. >> what pipeline? >> pipeline, this kind of speaks to where anonymous began, which was the image board. so when the original commenters on these discussion boards were stopped from using their nicknames and they had to be anonymous, there were two different, you start to be a slight civil war on those sites between the people who wanted to sniff things and those who wanted to be anonymous. the guys with the nicknames would call the anonymous guys, they would jokingly refer to it as a man called anonymous and a pipeline. this joke turned into something that was real. the sense that through collective action, through collective discussion, they could create something more powerful than what any individual could. we talk a lot these days about outsourcing. that's a very big component of the anonymous works as well. collectively ideas together, voting for the best, and sometimes the most charismatic individual, the real doers, if
you can call it -- are the ones who tend to lead the way. they are never a pointed. they are never be voted in, but if there's a popular that surrounds that person then they can get things done and the crowd can move forward. >> parmy olson isn't london. she is joining us via skype here on "the communicators." we're talking about her new book, "we are anonymous." what is, we begin our discussion talking about -- can anyone go to that site? >> you probably wouldn't want to go to that site. it's a very, it's a free for all. i shouldn't say that it wouldn't want to go. check it out by all means but user warning. just beware of what you see. it's really awkward. a lot of, a lot of pictures of. and a lot of opportunities for people to crank other people. is either someone is a regular user on one of the threads and
they have someone that they really dislike. to that person's facebook profile, but a link to it on one of the threads and say let's go after this person. and if they manage to kind of promote that in the right way, another people on the thread will be very happy to join in and help to crack that person's facebook account, hack into their accounts and spam it with all sorts of not very nice images and words. and so yes, it's kind of an amoral kind of free for all, but at the same time it's a real source of unhindered creativity. have a lot of internet means that it going around internet at the moment on facebook and on twitter. a lot of these image macros come from 4chan. there such an element of freedom and no limits to what you can say or do that often they come up with very funny and hilarious means and jokes and tricks and
pranks spent so, parmy olson, the online personas that are developed versus the personal personas that are real, what's the difference between these two? >> you know, i think that's something the internet has provided for a long time. when you're on facebook you my project a different kind of personality on facebook to who you are in real life. some people don't draw distinction at all between how they are online and how they are in real life. with the irc networks you could have a nickname and without making you can create a back story just like -- you can be a different vendor. even be a different age. what anonymous do is take it to the next level. not only can you live out an alter ego or a different kind of personality or a different gender, you can have a purpose. you can have a moral high ground as well. so anonymous becomes this
meeting ground for all these different personalities can come together and can have a kind of purpose and find fulfillment for the people, the real people behind those personas. >> do sabu, and topiary still exists online? >> know they don't. the people behind those names have been arrested to the men who was arrested has pleaded, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, whereas jake davis has pleaded to two out of the four counts. sabu who was outed as being late '20s man from new york, lower east side named hector, has pleaded guilty to the charges against him and he has yet to be sentenced. >> how were they arrested? who was arrested first? talk about that. >> the first person to be arrested was sabu. he was the charismatic figure, the when people looked up to, almost older brother within
lulzsec. could be a aggressive and was known to tell people off from time to time, very hot headed from time to time if you got on the wrong side of them. he was the first to be arrested on june 6, 2011. really right in the middle of the lulzsec hacking spree. and he kind of went off-line for about 24, 36 hours and everybody on the chat rooms, private chat rooms he had been frequenting were very worried. i remember him telling at the time he was very worried about whether he had been arrested or not. didn't sabu came back online and said that everything was fine and, in fact, his grandmother had died and who's going to be off-line for a few more days to deal with funeral arrangements and whatnot. the truth was that the fbi had come to his house and had threatened, that he would be incarcerated for two years because they had evidence to prove he had been involved in credit card fraud. into a void that come here to young girls that you as guardian over, he'd agree to cooperate
with the fbi. so for the coming, even as lulzsec continued to announce hacks, to collaborate with other hackers, sabu was, in fact, informing on the members of his team and cooperating with the fbi. >> and that was in new york city, correct? >> that was in new york city, the lower east side, right. many of the other members of lulzsec were in the uk, so davis was a in the shetland islands, very remote community of islands just about scotland, between scotland and norway, and he lived by himself in this small wooden house just near the main town in shetland. >> and jake davis was topiary? >> that's right. a few weeks later, in mid-july, actually after lulzsec it ended, jake had a knock on his door and it was the police and, plainclothes police officers, and they want to see everything that was on his laptop.
had to step away from the computer pick they asked him for the password to get access to some of the hard drives that were on his computer, and he gave them that access. agency mutely started questioning him, and they questioned him for the next four days. >> and did he admit to being topiary at some point? >> he was very cooperative with the police, after they spoke to them. i probably shouldn't say too much about that since he and the uk you have to be careful what i have to say because he has a truck coming up next april and there's an issue of contempt of course here. however, they understand is that he did cooperate with the police and they were able to get the passwords to these accounts. for instance, his twitter account, and topiary was also managing the lulzsec twitter account. >> parmy olson, what about kayla? >> so, again, another situation where the police arrested a young man named ryan ackroyd in september of 2011.
they came to his house and arrested him in his home. is 26 years old, former soldier, did time in iraq the he lives in -- he was in the uk army for five years, and really looks like the kind of soldier will pick we look at them he has this note to recoup it and he has tattoos on his arms. and so he just, about a month ago, he was in court with topiary -- start, with jake davis and ryan, and a fourth man has been arrested in connection with lulzsec is a mine and can't be named later and they have to answer to the charges against them. >> and all pleaded not guilty to? >> no. there was a mixture of guilt to not guilty pleas. jake davis led guilty to two out of before. ryan ackroyd pled not guilty to every single charge, all four charges against him. on eight count indictment ride, the lulzsec support from heat
led guilty to six out of the eight charges, and the fourth young man pleaded not guilty to all the charges. so there's definitely going to be a trial in april 2013 and i think we'll see a lot more details coming out in court about what the police believe was happening with lulzsec in the summer of 2011 but it will be interesting to see what comes out of the. >> so currently these gentlemen, and they were all gentlemen, they are all men, correct? no women involved? >> right spirit where are they? are the in house arrest? are they in jail? what is their status because they are on bail at the moment except for ryan, who broke his bail conditions. and again, uk contempt of course, i'm not allowed to discuss that in the uk, but jake davis and ryan ackroyd are wearing electronic tags, which means that they have a curfew. they are not allowed to be outside of house after 10 p.m.,
or before 7 a.m. >> are they allowed online? >> they are not. this is a big thing for them. cannot be online, particularly for jake davis who has spent a lot of time online, particularly from the age of about 13 onward. you know, to spend so much of your life online to the extent we didn't really have, too much socializing in the off-line world. and into some have absolutely no access to the internet, you know, these guys while they are awaiting trial are looking for jobs that they can do, ways to a little bit of extra money. it's actually, for some of them it's difficult to find something where you have any internet access. so this is one of the challenges we are facing. >> what's the status of sabu here in the state to? >> that's a little unclear to me stupid my understanding is at this point is he was arrested and is waiting to be sentenced. i think i heard somewhere he would be sentenced before the end of this year, but i'm not clear on the.
>> so, parmy olson, what can we draw -- first of all, what does anonymous anyway still exist? does lulzsec still exist? >> spent it's funny you should say that because there were some attempts to revive lulzsec although the main guys who are really organizing lulzsec of the guys guys would establish it to are not running anymore. a few other guys from the anonymous committee from hacker circles trying to start something called lulzsec reborn a few months ago. but nothing really kind of took off in the same way that lulzsec did. we haven't seen another hacker group come to prominence with the same -- be as destructive as lulzsec was to there have been some other splinter groups with mouse hack and cabin crew and they have done some damage and they have gotten press attention to begin nowhere near the amount
of lulzsec the. >> was there relationship between wikileaks and occupy wall street, the occupy wall street movement and anonymous and lulzsec? >> with occupy wall street i think there was a lot of support between the two sides. certainly there was an overlap of, in terms of west wayne -- left wing libertarianism. i think there was certainly the kind of processes that anonymous was using to propagate ideas and to spread the word about an event, people from wall street to choose those kind of processes and people from anonymous were a part of occupy wall street as we'll. so there was an overlap. nothing official but the kind of symbiotic relationship. as far as wikileaks one of the things i learned from reporting on anonymous was, sorry, on anonymous and lulzsec was the guise of lulzsec were invited into a chat room in late june where they could talk to
representatives of wikileaks. another claim to be julian assange to sell. there was video evidence of this which was uploaded to youtube showing julian assange at a laptop at the same time as a discussion happening with the lulzsec hackers. and then deleted just moments later. and at that time wikileaks, or this representative was asking lulzsec to collaborate on hacking into the servers of an icelandic organization and trying to find elements of corruption. this is really explosive stuff for lulzsec at the time. the guys within the group are kind of shocked that they're being in such kind of grand company. but that's when it really hit home that they have become big, that the guys who wikileaks were actually reaching out to them. they ended up trying to find those vulnerabilities in the icelandic organizations and websites, and they couldn't find a vulnerability that they could actually explode. it was a bit too public it get a
so that didn't really go to any further. but the collaboration did happen. there were a few discussions. >> how did you get in touch with these folks speak with with lulzsec? >> yes spent again, i was very interested in anonymous when it first came to the floor, and he simply didn't have always been quite interested in the secret committees and underground groups and how those communities work and relationships within the. so i'm not wanted to find a more about anonymous. and i just asked one well-known observer of anonymous named greg, if they could put me in touch with a spokesman in the uk. gave me an e-mail address that about you and then those e-mails went back and forth. i became more curious about this apparent culture that game, that anonymous came from, this world this e-mail address, the person behind his e-mail address that says it allows them to see the world to fully. i wanted to know more. that person ended up being
topiary and we transferred those discussions to scott for i could have a phone call and eventually wrote a profile on him in "forbes" magazine. i just decided i wanted to take it further. after discussing the issue with my own editor, and reached out to other people in the network and got topiary to introduce me to others, and of so many interesting personal stories from the people i was speaking to, i thought this would be a great way to actually tell the whole story of anonymous would be through the eyes of the few people who have been part of it. so i think as they knew i was running a book and not really a news story where ever they said would be published the next day, they were a little bit more open to talking to me and allowing me into some of these private chat rooms where they were discussing things. not really the chat rooms where they're discussing a tax a separate chat rooms they created just to talk to me. >> and we are out of time but we been talking with parmy olson, london bureau chief for "forbes" magazine, and author of the new
book "we are anonymous: inside the hacker world of lulzsec, anonymous, and the global cyber insurgency." thanks for joining us here on c-span. >> thank you. >> of nic sims on the major speakers at last month international aids conference held here in the nation's capital >> we are showing you some of the recent 19th international aids conference held in washington and talking with david brent of the "washington post" to cover the conference. what was the significance about the event being held in washington? >> it wa