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Aaron Barr VS Anonymous

2012/02/01

Aaron Barr was the CEO of an Internet security firm called HBGary Federal. Anonymous is a secretive (hence the name) group of Internet users who have no problem shutting down the CIA website if the situation calls for it. Seeing as how Aaron Barr’s security firm works with the U.S. government on cybersecurity issues, he decided to conduct an “experiment” in which he would flex his cybersecurity muscles by rounding up actual names of Anonymous members using publicly available resources like Facebook and Twitter.

Forbes.com
And yet, just Googling “Anonymous” would have given him enough information to predict what happened next.

Using fake aliases, he actually managed to sneak into forums that Anonymous users used and talked directly to some of the group’s leaders. Timing events on the forums to events on Facebook and Twitter, Barr figured he had names for “about 90 percent of their leadership.”

Now, he was head of a security firm and these were a bunch of hackers. It makes perfect sense. And, had he just quietly passed this information off to the FBI, who had been tracking Anonymous for months, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about Aaron Barr right now. Hell, maybe some good might have been done.

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Although several mask vendors would have gone out of business.

But no way was Barr going to let an achievement like this be ignored by the world at large, so he decided to have his work published in the Financial Times, effectively boasting about how much smarter he was than this group of rag-tag hackers.

Do we even need to tell you what happened next?

HBGary

The Petty Revenge:

Anonymous was quick to act, publishing over 50,000 HBGary company emails, wiping out an entire terabyte of backups, taking down the entire HBGary website and locking everyone out of it by changing every password that could possibly be changed.

Oh, and for good measure, they also remotely wiped Barr’s iPad.

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“As long as we exist, you will never play Angry Birds again!”

Barr tried to go into the forums again and claim he was never planning on selling them out to the FBI, but Anonymous called his bullshit bluff when they pointed out that they had all his emails, including those between Barr and the FBI.

The president of HBGary Inc., Penny Leavy, went into the forums herself and asked what Anonymous wanted. Their answer was simple: Fire Barr and make him issue a public apology. Barr resigned, and his company’s reputation was ruined. After all, their main line of business was freaking cybersecurity. In the end, not only did they fail to defend their website and private emails, but they also couldn’t defend their booth at a cybersecurity show. Sad.

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