Security researcher feels the wrath of Anonymous

Anonymous fires both barrels at HBGary Federal

Wikileaks defenders Anonymous are firing both barrels at a security researcher who promised to name people in the group. Aaron Barr vowed he’d expose organizers of the online activist group Anonymous next week, but in response Anonymous hacked his Twitter account, broke into his company network and posted more than 44,000 of the company’s e-mails.They also posted his home address, phone number and Social Security number on his Twitter page.

Barr, the CEO of HBGary Federal, said in an interview with the Financial Times over the weekend that he’d expose the leaders of the hacktivist group Anonymous next week at a conference in San Francisco, where he is scheduled to speak at the Security B-Sides event.

Since that story ran, Anonymous has broken into HBGary Federal’s network where it says it found Barr’s research on the group, and, in a press release, declared it to be “woefully inaccurate.”

“Aaron Barr missed a great deal of information that has been available online, and in fact failed to identify some of those whose identities were never intended to be hidden,” the group says in the release.

Anonymous has also posted an e-mail exchange between the hacked e-mail account of Greg Hoglund (the founder of HBGary Federal’s parent company, HBGary) and an HBGary Federal employee in which Anonymous convinces the employee to open up a firewall port through which the hackers gained access to the company network.

In addition to exposing personal details about Barr on his Twitter page, it doctored his photo with a Special K logo on his forehead and a piece of white tape over his mouth.

A post said, “Okay Anons, we're giving Aaron back his account in T-Minus 60 minutes. If he doesn't admit defeat in his first Tweet, we're taking it back.”

An hour later the most recent post read: “Today Anonymous has shown its fury. We will destroy those who we feel need to be destroyed. Everyone learned their lesson? Back to normal.” His photo had been distorted to a caricature with the words “Forever Barrlone” written on it.

A later Tweet that subsequently disappeared read, “Account control is now switching to the real Aaron Barr; Mr. Barr, you should know that we're still watching. Place nice or we won't.”

After 45 minutes or so Barr hadn’t Tweeted. Reached by phone, he referred questions about his battle with Anonymous to a spokesperson for HBGary Federal because he was busy dealing with problems spawned by Anonymous. “Right now I’m trying to make sure I don’t lose my money or anything else,” Barr said.

Later a post on his Twitter page read, “ok. So Anon has done a number on me. Probably going to take a bit to piece things together, probably more to come.”

Anonymous, a loose confederation of international hackers, gained notoriety last year when it defended Wikileaks founder  Julian Assange who was under siege for posting thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables online. Anonymous’ tactics were to launch denial of service attacks against sites that were undermining Wikileaks’ sites.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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