At night, when all the world’s asleep,
the questions run so deep
for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please
tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.
The Logical Song by Supertramp
This post hopes to give insight into another malignant outgrowth of evil – a sub-culture collective of hive minded individuals wreaking havoc today, even now as you read your computer screen.
This collective connects daily, almost constantly. When doing so each member hides behind a pseudonym ‘mask.’ And, from their text exchanges it appears that the collective meets to recharge each their own narcissistic-self-image and sense of power. Beyond this the colony gathers in groupthink to plot attacks on unsuspecting victims and for the “lulz.”
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks hide an IP address. The VPN provides a false internet identity and a remote physical location. This ‘obscuring’ allows “tunneling” to another computer secretly. VPNs are used by “black hat” hackers and “white hat” hackers (good guys who root out the “black hat” hackers). Businesses will also use VPNs for employees to use their work computers at home.
It is within the ‘protection’ of purposely opaque cyber secrecy that each member of the collective learns from each other as to how to deceive, how to DDoS (.a Distributed Denial of Service website attack), how to “social engineer” their way into people’s privacy and other online vigilantism.
The members will go on to use their ‘hands-on’ knowledge to infiltrate private property and to disperse it under a pretense of a self-satisfactory justice. Reputations of their victims are destroyed (called “life ruins”) along the way.
This collective doesn’t gather in a material space. Instead each cyber participant from their usually darkened domicile meets in the backwaters of chat rooms, bulletin boards and cyber channels, otherwise known as the noosphere. The collective can be called several names, depending on who is writing about the group: “hacktivists”, the “Antisec movement”, “AnonOps”, “LulzSec”, “Anonymous”.
The background for this post comes primarily from a recently published book. I have quoted extensive passages so as to provide a third party description of this malignancy.
“We Are Anonymous: Inside the World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency authored by Parmy Olson, a Forbes magazine writer, reveals the dark side of the cyber world of pranksters, identity thieves and the mostly 15-30 year-old guys who do nothing but spend their days and nights in front of an computer screen causing others harm. They will act individually or as a quickly assembled hive of hacktivists.”
One individual prankster named in the book is a guy named William.
As related, William would hack into a person’s Facebook account after ‘socially manipulating’ his victim to handover passwords. He would then go on to embarrass, terrorize and deface his victim with the information found on the victim’s social media site. And, if William didn’t find enough of what he needed to terrorize his victim he would then “social engineer” (manipulate them using lies and flattery) the person and use their personal info found on the Facebook page. William spoke to Parmy about the process:
From page 377:
William: “We split up boyfriends and girlfriends and appalled many people’s mothers,“ (my note: After having gained his victim’s confidence William would extort pornographic photos from his victim. He would then show them to the victim’s parents) William remembered. “That’s one of the bits I enjoy more. Sending a picture of someone’s c__k to their mum. The idea of it happening to me is so unimaginably embarrassing it makes me laugh.”
Parmy talking about William, pages 377, 378: What he loved doing even more, from the time he’d begun pedo-baiting, at fifteen, was getting another man online highly aroused and then suddenly dousing the moment with the threat of exposure to family and friends or police… Hacking into people’s Facebook accounts wasn’t exactly life-altering, but he got a buzz from knowing that at least for a moment, his victims felt the lives crumbling around them.
William: “…That’s all I want from 4chan. I want something that’s going to leave me not depressed and give me something to focus on. And it’s fun to make someone feel that awful from a distance. I could never do that face to face.”
William spent the next few nights keeping hold of Selena’s credential’s, meeting his new Facebook group of /b/ pranksters, and terrorizing people on Serena’s social network, including posting comments on the photos of her female friends and calling them fat…
This was how William liked to cause a stir. Not by entertaining an audience of thousands on Twitter, like Topiary did, but by embarrassing others to entertain himself. Still, there were things that William and Topiary had in common, not least that both had found Anonymous through 4chan. (my note: Topiary is the online name for Jake Davis).
One day William and Jake meet for lunch. Parmy records their conversation. Jake is wearing an ankle bracelet. He had been arrested and brought to London for his hacking crimes. He is out on bail.
The telling conversation of the two previously Anonymous hackers now meeting face to face began slowly, but eventually “the two started talking about Anonymous and how it had changed them.”
From the book (page 381):
“It’s made me a more extreme version of myself,” William said. “I used to sleep badly. Now I sleep terribly. I used to be sarcastic; now I can be an a__hole.” He didn’t just “like “tormenting people; he loved it. He didn’t just “like” porn; he looked at it every day. “None of this bothers me, he added. “I don’t care about anything.” William had said in the past that he had no moral code; everything was case by case, his decisions based on gut reaction. Earnest Hemingway had said it best: “What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”
Jake was nodding. “I have to agree with all of that, “he said. It desensitized me.”…Acting out with crowds of people on the Internet had created a detachment from reality and a sense of obliviousness to certain consequences. Anonymous did bad things, but its members were not bad people, per se.” (emphasis mine)
Parmy records the conversation of the two amoral hacktivists, from pages 381, 382:
There was a common misconception about the lack of morals on /b/ and in Anonymous. “It doesn’t mean you do bad things,” said William. “It just means there’s no rules. We don’t revert to being bastards at every opportunity.”
“It’s also nice to just be nice,” Jake added.
Many of the /b/’s most hard core users, like William, didn’t care about jobs, family, or life’s typical milestone events. Both Jake and William relished the idea of living a life that had no impact on real people.”…
“To have as little impact on anywhere as possible is a really appealing thought, which is like never being born, “said Jake. No legitimate home, no name on a piece of government paper, no fingerprints. To be nameless, with no identity, not bogged down by any system but to “lightly live everywhere” was something they both craved in life.”
Did that craving come from what they’d experienced with Anonymous: vandalizing things often with little consequence?”…
(page 384) Did either of them ever feel like he had been manipulated by Anonymous?
“Not at all,” said William.
Jake looked down for a moment, then answered. “Not manipulated, but influenced, he said. “When you’re in a mob mentality with lots of others. You have a ‘mob extreme’ version of yourself too, this one, unified mind-set where you don’t care that anything exists and you want to wreck something.” William was nodding now.”
“I’ve said no but the mob things rings true, “he said. The issue of mental health meant a lot to him personally, but sometimes he’d see a thread on /b/ where the original poster has said, “I’m really depressed and want to kill myself.” If the thread’s participants leaned toward telling him to commit suicide, William would join in, posting a picture of a can of cyanide and reminding the OP to do it properly. “Which is something I don’t even believe. I don’t want people to die, but”~ he shrugged ~ “it’s something to write and something to do.”
Of course, both William and Jake had done their fair share of (social) manipulating too….”
Talking about the younger “goombie” users and newfags on 4chan, William goes on to tell Jake his thoughts (page 384):
“They want to think the world is against them so there’s something to justify their angst,” he said That’s why it was almost easy to get people to join the revolution I Anonymous. “you can just make stuff up [about government or corporate corruption] and they buy it.” To write a rousing post on /b/, for instance, you just needed to write in a way that appeal to the Anon crowd, using linguistic devices like alliteration, repetition, sound bytes, and dramatic words like injustice, oppression, and downtrodden to describe corporations and governments, and justice, freedom and uprising when referring to Anonymous.”… (emphasis mine)
From page 385: …Jake was nodding again. If you knew how to communicate with the Anons, sometimes you could direct them. “It’s just so easy, “he said.
I purposefully quoted whole passages so that you could get insight into the depths of the nihilism, decadence, despair and boredom of this horrific self-destructive-neighbor-destructive behavior. You should read the book to get the full effect. The book has a useful Glossary of terms coined by the collective.
For me the book was a difficult read because I know how good and wholesome life can be outside of yourself, outside of groupthink.
This type of collective evil has gripped so many young lives. And, suicide is one of the Evil One’s ‘escapes.’ from the dreariness of life in the dark.
If your son (let’s talk specifics) spends all his time in his room with the curtains shut, door locked and his computer on then it is time for an intervention. Moral relativism from the “noosphere” is what is feeding his soul. The Evil One or one of his emissaries is close at hand, looking over his shoulder, suggesting things that are inordinate, evil.
Regarding “social justice” as just cause to take the law into your own hands…
Anthony Daniels an English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist once said: “Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience.”
The Age of Enlightenment pushed reason onto the scene. But reason and its subset, – controlled data from human sensory experience – without revelation – an outside source of Enlightenment with its subset of moral absolutes – turns life in on itself where it finds the deep dark well of nihilism. When that occurs one finds that there is no rational meaning to life beyond one’s fleeting existential thoughts and feelings or the “lulz,” we give it. And, in a way, “lulz” is a variant of Münchausen syndrome: Anons develop grandiose facetious exploits for the sake of a vast amounts of immediate attention satisfaction, an emo-sensory spike.
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
The Gospel according to John: 8:12
Note: I did not write in detail about the Anons use of DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service~basically, slamming a website with spam so that it cannot be accessed) and LOIC (low orbit ion cannon~basically, another DDOS ‘weapon’). These exploits, corporate and government hacking and their destruction of public safety and personal privacy are not something I would ever promote. These and other nefarious cyber attacks are documented in Parmy’s enlightening book.
As mentioned in the book, this collective of people did these things mostly for the Lulz for ‘kicks’. Here’s Parmy’s definition: “An alteration of LOL (laugh out loud), this term is thought to have first appeared on an Internet Relay Chat network in 2003 in reaction to something funny. It now refers to the enjoyment felt after pursuing a prank or online disruption that leads to someone else’s embarrassment.”
I hope to keep you informed and updated about hacking activity, ‘safe’ computing. Keep checking this post for updates as I become aware of them.
8/6/2014: Russian hackers: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/technology/russian-gang-said-to-amass-more-than-a-billion-stolen-internet-credentials.html?_r=1
8/9/2014: I’ll offer. You read and decide. I have used TrendMicro’s web security free scanning download – this scan has be used by many>> Cryptolocker GOZeuS
8/9/2014: Danger, Will Robinson and the rest of you earthlings!! Be vary, vary wary of anyone who comments on your Facebook page and/or blog and is flattering. They may apeear as someone you know. If so, verify the comment in a separate email to the person that you do know. (Blame me if the person gets upset.) Danger, too, when someone comments on things that do no relate at all to what is on your Facebook page or to what’s on your blog. These ‘guys’ want to connect with you in order to download malware “bots” onto your computer and worse….Hit “DELETE” immediately!!!
8/9/2014: I recently received an email from ~ Subject: “Attorney “so & so” has a legal matter to discuss with you. Respond Immediately or the judge may issue a default judgment in our favor.” Don’t buy it!! A real attorney will send you a certified letter notifying you of any legal matter concerning you. Do not open the email!!! Hit “DELETE” immediately!!!
8/11/2014 : Social Networking Safely Awareness Newsletter: