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Anonymous Hackers to Aaron Barr: Snitches Get Online Stitches

The anarchic and amorphous hacker group Anonymous unleashed its online fury Sunday on Aaron Barr, a computer security expert with plans to tell the FBI everything he's gathered about the group. They took over his Twitter, covered it with racial slurs, published his social security number and proceeded to expose 50,000 of his company emails, available for download in one convenient file. Anonymous also messed with his company website, which is now down. All because he told the Financial Times that "he had collected information on the core leaders, including many of their real names, and that they could be arrested if law enforcement had the same data." So they took him to online war.

More on Barr's research:

Mr Barr said he penetrated Anonymous as part of a project to demonstrate the security risks to organisations from social media and networking. He is presenting his research later this month at a conference in San Francisco. ... Using LinkedIn, Classmates.com, Facebook and other sites, Mr Barr also burrowed deep enough into a US military group and a US nuclear plant that he could trick workers there to click on web links that, if they had been malicious, could have installed spying software on their computers. Such "social engineering" hacks are a major vulnerability for companies targeted in industrial espionage.

To punish him, Anonymous -- an enemy of Scientology and governments in Tunisia, Egypt and so on -- cornered Barr in a chat room to let him know that they had all of his findings about the group and his personal information. As reported by Gawker, from inside the chat:

"All your emails were dropped. Meaning we know you were trying to sell your fucking research to the FBI. And the sad thing is the names and info in that document//research is all fucking fake... you could have gotten a lot of random innocent people arrested," wrote one Anonymous member.

"That's an old version of my research.... not trying to sell it... much has changed," Barr wrote.

"I saw your latest data and it's all the same shit," snapped back another Anonymous member.

"They didn't just pick on any company, but we try to protect the US government from hackers," said Greg Hoglund, the founder of HBGary, which employs Barr. "They couldn't have chosen a worse company to pick on."

But on Twitter, the nature of Anonymous persisted: "Today we taught everyone a lesson. When we actually decide to bite back against those who try to bring us down, we bite back hard. #gameover." And: "Anonymous finds the line and then crosses it." Hashtag? #noregrets.

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]


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