HBGary's Hoglund: Anonymous are Criminal Hackers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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HBGary Federal's CTO Greg Hoglund has made some rather inflammatory statements regarding the nature of the rogue movement Anonymous just a few weeks after his company experienced a damaging breach at the hands of the hacktivist group.

The breach had revealed that HBGary Federal was involved in several questionable projects, including developing WikiLeaks counter-operations strategies for Bank of America, proposals for cyber attacks against private network systems, and the strong-arming of a pro-WikiLeaks journalist.

Other information released in the breach showed the company was engaged in conceiving strategies to infiltrate civil activist groups, developing methods to manipulate social media, and plans for create a cyber offensive weapon called Magenta.

The company's CEO, Aaron Barr, chose to resign from the in the wake of the breach and subsequent criticism regarding revelations about some of the company's business practices.

The breach was precipitated by statements from Barr claiming he had infiltrated the Anonymous network and was prepared to reveal details of the groups' leadership.

Hoglund appears at first to be distancing himself from Barr's investigation of Anonymous prior to the breach, but then goes on to reveal that the company turned all of their resources towards uncovering information about the group after the attack.

Hogland's description of the organizational structure of Anonymous runs counter the group's assertion that they are a crowd-driven populist Internet uprising.

"There are a dozen people at the center of Anonymous. Most of those people are criminal hackers. And they are not just attacking HBGary, they are attacking numerous defense contractors who are in the defense industrial base and system integrators for the government. They are attacking numerous companies in the pharmaceutical space and the chemical space. They are attacking U.S. corporations," Hoglund told Computerworld's Robert Lemos.

Hoglund's confidence seems surprisingly unshaken by the breach as he goes on to describe tactics employed by Anonymous supporters that are more in line with those used by a militant drug cartel than with a loose-knit group of civil disobedience advocates.

"They are going after people's family and children. They actually have all the family members listed. And they call them up on the phone. They harass them. There have been cases where death threats have been left. It's just ridiculous, and it's completely unacceptable. I had no idea about any of this before I was attacked," Hoglund said.

Hoglund even offers a backhanded compliment of sorts to WikiLeaks and the whistleblower organization's supporters by starkly contrasting them with the likes of Anonymous.

"There is a difference between someone willing giving information to Wikileaks, and a cyber thuggery group criminally hacking into computers and stealing that data. That's two totally separate things," Hoglund said.

Hoglund's scathing portrayal of the movement was quite candid, and revelations that further investigation of Anonymous was conducted by HBGary after the breach may very well have exposed more tender flesh to the hacktivist's hornet nest.

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Headlines WikiLeaks Anonymous Hacktivist hackers breach HBGary Federal Greg Hoglund
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