Was #Anonymous Busted Because of Barrett Brown’s Betrayal — or Blunders? UPDATE: Hacker ‘Anarchaos’ Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Court Appearance
Posted on | May 15, 2012 | 12 Comments
By sheer chance today, I happened across an intriguing post at Ameristroika suggesting that Barrett Brown played a key role in the takedown of the Anonymous/LulzSec criminal hacker conspiracy.
To summarize briefly: The indictment of LulzSec hacking suspects Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Darren Martyn, Jeremy Hammond, and Donncha O’Cearrbhail mentions an unindicted co-conspirator.
There are enough intriguing coincidences — e.g., a tip to the Feds from a Kansas IP address, some months after Brown had mentioned plans to visit Kansas — to raise suspicions. Was Brown an FBI informant? Has he turned snitch since the FBI raid in March? Was it all a clever scam by Brown to score a book deal?
Permit me to suggest an alternative theory: Brown isn’t as smart as he likes to think he is, and got sloppy. He trusted someone he shouldn’t have trusted, and that person turned out to be a snitch.
Has Brown now rolled over and started giving up his former accomplices in a cowardly effort to save his punk ass? We’ll find out eventually, I guess, but the question is how soon we’ll find out.
UPDATE: One of the accused hackers thinks he can beat the rap:
A Chicago man pleaded not guilty Monday to criminal charges that he participated in a series of cyber attacks allegedly carried out by “LulzSec,” a globe-spanning collective of computer hackers who targeted government and corporate websites last year.
Jeremy Hammond, 27 years old, briefly appeared in Manhattan federal court to be arraigned on the charges.
After the hearing, a small group of supporters gathered outside the courthouse with signs saying “Free Hammond. Solidarity With All Hacktivist Prisoners” and “Burn The Prison Society.”
In a new indictment returned earlier this month, federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged that Mr. Hammond, who allegedly went by the online names “Anarchaos,” “POW” and “ghost,” was a member of the LulzSec conspiracy and participated in some of the group’s hacking activities.
UPDATE II: Remember that “LulzSec” was a spinoff of “Anonymous,” a pre-existing network of so-called “hacktivists” that made headlines by swarming online to defend Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks project. And the online battles continue between the pro-Anonymous and anti-Anonymous. Barrett Brown’s name is mentioned several times by Sean Gallagher today at the tech Web site Ars Technica in an article about “Jester,” an enemy of Anonymous.
Brown first came to my attention in September 2009, immediately after the Great LGF Blogwar. When I learned in February 2011 that Brown had emerged as a public spokesman for Anonymous, I immediately predicted that Brown was either already under FBI surveillance, or else soon would be under surveillance.
Barely four months later, the British made the first arrest in the “Lulzsec” case, and soon the hacker named “Sabu” had turned snitch against his accomplices — although his accompliced didn’t know it — and the whole thing came tumbling down. But I’ve always thought Brown’s dumbass idea of making himself the public face of Anonymous was the key by which investigators unlocked that puzzle.
- March 11, 2012: Erstwhile #Anonymous Spokesman Barrett Brown Scores Six-Figure Book Deal, Raided by FBI, Denounces Snitch
- June 27, 2011: Arrest of British LulzSec Hacker Renews Questions About Barrett Brown’s Activity
- March 9, 2011: Has Barrett Brown Scammed NBC News?
- Feb. 14, 2011: Is the FBI Watching Barrett Brown? (And If They’re Not Already, Shouldn’t They?)