yesterday, the loose collective of online vigilantes - Anonymous - responded to a story in the The Financial Times and the actions of HBGary's CEO Aaron Barr by hacking into the company's systems and releasing tens of thousands of its emails and documents."You've angered the hive," said Anonymous, in response to the efforts of security firm HBGary's attempts to infiltrate and expose its inner workings. As we reported
Among those documents, an outline of plans to systematically discredit WikiLeaks, along with Salon journalist (and WikiLeaks supporter) Glenn Greenwald.
A proposal entitled "The WikiLeaks Threat" was developed by Palantir Technologies, HBGary, Berico Technologies upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm whose clients include Bank of America, the bank widely rumored to be the target of WikiLeaks' next leak.
The proposal (mirrored on the WikiLeaks site) offers suggestions on how to disrupt and discredit WikiLeaks apparently included cyberattacks on its infrastructure and leaking misinformation in the hopes that WikiLeaks could be caught in a "gotcha" moment.
More surprising and arguably more troubling: the proposal suggests an attack on Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who has been an active supporter of WikiLeaks and of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier charged with leaking many of the classified documents that WikiLeaks distributed. "This level of support needs to be disrupted." The proposal suggests that "without the support of people like Glenn WikiLeaks would fold." That seems a rather silly contention, but the idea that one would target a journalist like this is chilling to say the least.
It's worth noting that nothing in the document or its accompanying email chain suggests that these plans ever became more than PowerPoint presentations. There's no indication that the Bank of America signed off on support for a smear campaign. And HBGary has not commented on the attacks by Anonymous or on the veracity of any of these documents.
But if nothing else, it's all fuel for what continues to be a wild saga, one where the Internet truth is stranger than fiction.