And major media outlets are hardly even covering this story, which opens a window into the fine art of corporate espionage.
HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies Plot Against WikiLeaks
One must go to tech blogs to discover that when WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange announced they would bring down a major U.S. bank, Bank of America‘s law firm Hunton and Williams hired three security firms to take down WikiLeaks.
The three firms are HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. All nondescript names for firms with ties to the U.S. government. In fact, the Department of Justice recommended the three firms to BoA’s general council. It would seem that it is now the business of the U.S. Department of Justice to act as essentially a secondary legal/intelligence council for Bank of America.
All of this under the presidency of Democratic President Barack Obama.
Ironically, it was WikiLeaks who leaked these revelations in the form of a pdf documented titled “The WikiLeaks Threat,” which revealed the involvement of of Palantir and Berico.
This information was made public by The Tech World, working on a tip from Crowdleaks.org. In the original article, HPGary Federal, Palantir and Berico collaborated on a proposal to be sent to Hunton and Williams, emphasizing their unique skills that will allow them to bring down WikiLeaks.
Hunton and William’s had asked for slides in a preparation for a December 3 meeting with BoA, in the hopes that they would be put on retainer for an investigation of WikiLeaks, while the three intelligence firms would handle “network and insider threat investigations” and WikiLeaks analysis.
The resulting presentation can be found here. In it, they speak of undercutting journalistic support of WikiLeaks, singling out Glenn Greenwald, believing that not only do journalists keep WikiLeaks thriving, but if leaned on, they will choose career over cause.
The intelligence firms also recommend using disinformation and propaganda to dismantle WikiLeaks.
Anonymous Strikes Back
In an interesting turn of events, HPGary’s COO Aaron Barr claimed to have infiltrated Anonymous through false personas and social media, further claiming that he now knew the identities of Anonymous’ leaders. He then bragged that he would expose the information at an upcoming Security B-Sides Conference.
And how did Anonymous react to Barr’s braggadocio?
Anonymous hacked HPGary’s website, replacing it with an Anonymous image and “greeting” that detailed their actions.
They begin with, “Greetings HPGAry (a computer “security” company), then go on to say:
“Your recent claims of “infiltrating” Anonymous amuse us, and so do your attempts at using Anonymous as a means to garner press attention for yourself. How’s this for attention?
You brought this upon yourself. You’ve tried to bite at the Anonymous hand, and now the Anonymous hand is bitch-slapping you in the face.”
Anonymous then went on to download HPGary’s email, uploading 66,000 emails to Pirate Bay, then hacked Barr’s iPad, email and Twitter accounts, posting Barr’s address, cell phone and social security number, and leaving various taunting and offensive messages.
In another ironic touch, Anonymous also posted the information on themselves—information which HPGary was going to sell to the FBI. Anonymous noted that the information gathered by HPGary is either publicly available Anonymous’ IRC networks or plain “nonsense.”
Daily Kos reported that Anonymous also deleted the firm’s back-up files.
According to Wired, Anonymous also managed to hack HPGary CEO Greg Hoglund’s Rootkit.com, “an online forum dedicated to analyzing and developing stealthy ‘rootkit’ malware technology.” They did so by gaining access to Hoglund’s email, and posing as Hoglund in order to manipulate a “Rootkit.com administrator named Jussi Jaakonaho into giving them root access to Rootkit.”
At the time of this posting, HPGary’s website is still offline.