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Turncoat Rolls on Anonymous March 7, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy.
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This is a post I struggled to write. I struggle because I do not personally agree with LulzSec’s or Anonymous’ objectives and tactics but this post is not about their tactics or views.  Rather it is a discussion in ethics and honor between people and lessons to be learned about human behavior.  The links have some very interesting stories of how “Sabu” turned on his own group.

As a young Marine I remember an old salty Gysgt. telling us: “Courage is not a lack of fear.  That’s what we call crazy.  Courage is when you are afraid and still being able to act in the face of your fear.”

An article on CNN discusses the arrest and charges filed on 5 of Anonymous’ members.  As stated in the CNN article, the 5 arrested were considered among the: “most sophisticated hackers in the world,”.  If you are not aware, Anonymous is (believed to be) a loosely knit group of hackers that are generally known as Hacktivists. This terms applies to people who hack for ideology as opposed to profit.  Anonymous has been credited with hacking into numerous law enforcement agencies, Stratfor, Sony and others to make political and other statements.  The 5 were arrested because one of their own sided with the Federal government to save himself. Clearly, Sabu did not have the conviction or courage to stand alone and take responsibility.

A story on FoxNews today talks of the “worlds most wanted hacker” turning on his own.  According to the story, Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as”Sabu” one of the leaders of LulzSec was arrested in August 2011 when he made a mistake that allowed the FBI to identify and locate him. LulzSec can also be considered a Hacktivist organization and many believe that there may be cross membership.

The interesting part of this story is what happened when Sabu was arrested.  Instead of keeping quiet and allowing the “work of the group to continue” he decided to become a turncoat and work for the FBI.  Now it is important to note that Sabu did not simply name names. He Actually took an FBI computer and continued on as if nothing was wrong.   This had the effect of baiting others into committing criminal acts.  According to the report, Sabu did not want to face being away from his own children if he were jailed.

What I find interesting about this position is that he does not mind turning others in and ensuring that they are separated from their children as long as it does not affect him. Sabu, while modelling himself as a political and societal activist turned out to be nothing more than a petty criminal that, at the first sign of personal danger, turned on his friends.  Sabu, it turned out, had no real conviction.  He was simply an unemployed, petty criminal out for his own benefit.

Irrespective of my thoughts on the groups’ motives, I cannot help but believe that there more than a few members who are “true believers” who are acting in a manner that they believe is true to affect change that they think is needed.  You or I may not agree with their perspective but remember the old adage: “…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

I think that this is likely a wakeup call to some of the members of the groups.  A person they followed and trusted instead betrayed their trust to save himself.  Now Sabu will be allowed to continue life with his children while others will be separated from their own. People will often claim conviction for a cause, or courage. It is not until they are actually staring into the abyss that they know whether they truly have such conviction.  Unfortunately  for those who followed him, Sabu had no conviction and will this will result in many more being arrested.  The lesson to take from this?  Don’t follow someone down a dark alley unless you know they have your back.

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