It was supposed to have been a confidential telephone conference between the FBI and Scotland Yard. The topic of their earnest discussion? As the classified email sent out in advance explained:
“Anon-Lulz International Coordination Call: A top-secret conference call is planned for next Tuesday (January 17 2012) to discuss the ongoing investigations related to Anonymous, Lulzsec, Antisec, and other associated splinter groups.”
An access code was included in the email to enable the coterie of elite cyberfeds to patch in and listen to the call from their bases around the world.
Noble as it was for the top brass to put their heads together in the interests of tackling ‘cyber terrorism’, there was just one flaw with their carefully-laid plan: someone else was also planning on listening in. And not just someone, but Anonymous, who are of course everyone, because when Anonymous listen in, the whole world gets to hear about it.
To have infiltrated so deep into enemy territory as to have penetrated the sphincter of an internal FBI operation was a coup in its own right. Had the pigs’ conference transpired to be nothing more than a banal chat about cheeseburgers (which it was for the first five minutes), the anons would have broadcast it gleefully nonetheless. That the subject of leng’s tête-à-tête proved to be none other than Anonymous themselves was merely the icing on a particularly lulzy cake.
The transatlantic call went ahead as scheduled on Tuesday January 17th, and lasted for around fifteen minutes. If Anonymous had been listening in, they were – to a masked man – remaining mute. In the hours following the conference call, there was nothing to suggest that the anons had successfully breached the lower colon of the FBI’s cyber division. The day after the conference call, the Anonymous community (who generally never shut up) were unusually muted. They were swift to tweet their derision, however, at an FBI director who warned a Senate committee that hackers would outstrip terrorists as the top threat to the U.S.
A few hours after the confidential phone call had taken place, the anons did stir for long enough to taunt a random cop who made the fateful mistake of tweeting at UFC boss Dana White “Get those hacking fucks. I’m a cop in the bay area CA. I would go at [Anonymous] with both guns!”. His sentiments were instantly retweeted to @YourAnonNews who then tweeted it to their 450,000 followers. Within minutes, cop Mike Rood had gone from having six Twitter followers to being mentioned every three seconds on the internet. Rood was rapidly doxed, with his personal information – including his home address and licence plate number – posted on the web.
The Internet – You’re Doing it Wrong
On the face of it, it may seem vengeful for the web to pick on a cop whose only crime was to tweet a vague threat directed at an amorphous group. It’s worth noting, however, that the very same day, a British couple recounted how they’d been detained at US immigration and kept under armed guard alongside Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours because one of them had jokingly tweeted: “Free this week for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?”
Within an hour of Rood tweeting his support to Dana White (who’d had his UFC site hacked – for the second time – by Anonymous as revenge for him labelling them ‘terrorists’), the crestfallen cop had deleted his Twitter account and stepped away from the computer to await an official enquiry into his rash behaviour.
The anons were largely trolling Rood of course; this n00b cop was merely the warm-up event for what was to come. The first signs that something may have been brewing on the dark side of the internet arrived late on Thursday night. Out of nowhere, the Anonymous hive began tweeting excitable news about a major Friday release, complete with their favourite hashtags: #Anonymous #Antisec #Lulz# #OpPigRoast #FFF #Cocks.
As part of the anons’ relentless police-baiting, they had assigned Rebecca Black’s favourite day of the week the hashtag #FFF – #FuckFBIFriday. This Friday promised to be the biggest one yet, and the anons did not disappoint.
Drop it Like it’s Hot
First to drop like a 50 megaton bomb was a complete recording of the top secret FBI phone call. Its release was not so much egg on the feds’ faces as an omelette bukkake. Nothing says ‘Cops can’t use computers’ like a bunch of cops confessing their inability to use computers while simultaneously proving that they can’t use computers by allowing their email accounts to be compromised and their computer conversation overheard by anons using other computers.
“We’ve cocked things up in the past, we know that” admitted the British cop on the line, before proceeding to cock things up further by dismissing Steam, with its 40 million online users, as “some sort of gaming site”. It was by no means the first time that the police had proven to be woeful at grasping the basics of Internet 101. Earlier this year, Boston Police Department flummoxed everyone under the age of 40 by trying to subpoena a hashtag. Not a Twitter account, but a public hashtag that anyone can affix to the end of a tweet. Presumably they intended to arrest every last person who’d ever tweeted the damn thing.
Feds – U Mad?
Armed with a recording of the classified FBI phone call, how would Anonymous go about releasing it to the general public – quietly and without bragging? Of course not – this is Anonymous we’re talking about, the group who claim that fucking with them is akin to ‘sticking your dick in a hornet’s nest’. Anonymous don’t do half measures – you’re either with them or you walk the plank.
The collective’s flippant press release began:
“Fellow Pirates, it’s time for another #FuckFBIFriday demo and we got a few sweet morsels of lulz for you that will be sure to rock the courtrooms, field offices and precincts of those vile bootboys of the 1%. Did you catch that leaked cybercrime investigation conference call? These losers are taking pleasure busting the people they think are responsible for the wave of attacks that have rocked the world over the past year. They laugh about busting young hackers while hyping us up as being more dangerous than terrorists in an attempt to justify wasting many more billions of dollars whilst also passing legislation designed to repress political movements and censor the internet. But somehow, despite having numerous informants and claiming to have advance foreknowledge of our activities, you still haven’t manage to catch us or stop any of our attacks, and all the while we are in ur bases snooping on ur internal communications.”
Five-oh had just been booted in the nut sack and were hurting real bad. They’d barely had time to recoil however before Anonymous were dishing out low blows once again. The group’s second major release as part of #FuckFBIFriday didn’t disappoint either. Their next target was Frank Wuterich, a US Marine who killed 24 Iraqi civilians yet somehow evaded a jail sentence. Early in the afternoon, word spread that the website of Puckett & Faraj, the prominent attorneys who defended Wuterich during his trial, had been hacked. Fuckett & Paraj were well and truly fucked.
By the time Anonymous had finished defacing the law firm’s site, it looked something like this. But that was not all they did. Beneath an embedded YouTube video of ‘Sound of Da Police’, the anons posted the following statement:
“As part of our ongoing efforts to expose the corruption of the court systems and the brutality of US imperialism, we want to bring attention to USMC SSgt Frank Wuterich who along with his squad murdered dozens of unarmed civilians during the Iraqi Occupation. Can you believe this scumbag had his charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter and got away with only a pay cut? Meanwhile Bradley Manning who was brave enough to risk his life and freedom to expose the truth about government corruption is threatened with life imprisonment. When justice cannot be found within the the confines of their crooked court systems, we must seek revenge on the streets and on the internet – and dealing out swift retaliation is something we are particularly good at. Worry not comrades, it’s time to deliver some epic ownage. We went ahead and fired off some shots of our own – at the servers and personal email accounts of Puckett & Faraj. We defaced their website and dumped nearly 3GB of private email messages belonging to Neal Puckett and Haytham Faraj. The contents of these email messages include detailed records, transcripts, testimony, trial evidence, and legal defense donation records pertaining to not only Frank Wuterich but also many other marines they have represented.
And to add a few layers of icing to this delicious caek, we got the usual boatloads of embarrassing personal information. How do you think the world will react when they find out Neal Puckett and his marine buddies have been making crude jokes about the incident where marines have been caught on video pissing on dead bodies in Afghanistan? Or that he regularly corresponds with and receives funding from former marine Don Greenlaw who runs the racist blog http://snooper.wordpress.com? We believe it is time to release all of their private information and court evidence to the world and conduct a People’s trial of our own.
Is that it? Hell no, there is plenty more mayhem to deliver for this #FuckFBIFriday. Do you remember a few months ago when #antisec attaked the Boston Police and released hundred of passwords in retaliation for the brutality against Occupy Boston? They clearly ignored our warnings, because not only did they raid the camp again and kicked protesters off of public parks, but they also sent undercover TSA agents to assault and attempt to steal from some organizers. So you get your kicks beating protesters? That’s OK; we get kicks defacing and rm’n your websites – again. BDNNews.com, the “Boston Police Department Virtual Community” also fell to the swift merciless vengeance of the hive. Do you really want to step to this?? If you didn’t dig it then then you better dig it now. We are calling upon all allied battleships to rise up and make some mayhem. NDAA/PIPA/SOPA for real? The internet is ours for the taking, and we will destroy every corporation and government that attempts to stand in our way.”
Extracts of the hacked Fuckett & Paraj emails can be read here. Their panicked exchanges get particularly juicy from line 1300 onwards, with one of the partners conceding “This may completely destroy the Law Firm.”
But Wait, There’s More…
Strike two in #FuckFBIFriday – the Fuckett & Paraj hack – occurred around lunchtime on Friday 3rd February. By this point, the mainstream media had caught wind of Anonymous’ success in pulling off another almighty coup. By teatime, the story was all over the Guardian, Sky News and BBC, as well as dozens of other outlets. The anons were front page news again.
As the Guardian put it, “Anonymous’s release of Met and FBI call puts hacker group back centre stage”
But as @YourAnonNews retorted: “Um, when did we depart centre stage?”
Amidst an action-packed day stuffed with grand releases, the anons also found time to engage in some ‘srs bsns’ on the internet by interspersing their polemical tweets with pictures of lolcats.
And why not? It was Anonymous and their creed who created those lovable lolcats after all, way back in the halcyon days of 4Chan. Perhaps that’s why the FBI are so mad at them – everyone gets irritated by lolcats eventually, right? Perhaps, but no one ever tires of emo horse. He’s just too adorable.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet, the YouTube recording of the hacked FBI call was accruing hundreds of thousands of plays and comments such as the following:
“Well, seeing as ACTA allows them to listen in on OUR phone-calls, this is an early taste of their own medicine.”
“I’m glad to see that my tax money is going for search after 15 years old kids that butt raped FBI so hard.”
Those Pesky Kids
The 15 year-old in question, incidentally, was Charrie Wong aka @TehWongz, a skid (script kiddie) from England. In spite of constantly hanging on the coat tails of Anonymous and LulzSec, he was, as one Scotland Yard cop put it “just a pain in the bum”.
For once, the anons found themselves nodding in agreement with the sentiments of five-oh. In Camp Anonymous, the rest of the day was to be spent loling at the feds’ fail. Even by the perma-tweeting standards of the Anonymous collective, the taunts were flying in thick and fast:
“We didn’t realise it was #Anonymoushunting season. What’s an Anonymous? How do you catch one?”
“Erm, did anyone tell the FBI that we’re NOT Pokemon? You really CANNOT catch us all… #Anonymous“
“More Lessons from Leaked FBI Call: (1) don’t keep logs; (2) use full disk encryption; (3) don’t brag about being a 1337 h4x0r at school.”
“Lesson Learned from Leaked FBI Call – If I want to bribe the feds, apparently I need cheese and McDonalds coupons. Good to know.”
The day – which had started so comically – ended in a similar vein thanks to the efforts of TehWongz, the “pain in the bum” kiddie who’d been named and shamed in the police conference call. Having been pilloried by Anonymous for snitching to the feds, TehWongz stopped trying to plead innocence and instead decided to seize the day and cash in on his fleeting notoriety. By Friday night, the world’s most annoying skid was tweeting the link to a personalised t-shirt that had been created in his honour. Proceeds from it were to go towards helping him ‘afford a new laptop’.
Just a day earlier, TehWongz had been openly advertising his rates for providing hacking services – in spite of having previously been busted by the filth, who confiscated his hard drive. By late on Friday evening, TehWongz had resorted to setting up a We Pay donation fund, tweeting:
Donate PWEEZ! I’ll do Interviews if u email me Donation Ref Number + How Much 🙂
In fairness to the kid, he is only 15, and I don’t recall being particularly mature either when I was that age. Or even this age, if the content of this blog is anything to go by. Still, I’m pretty sure I was never that much of a needy attention whore.
Anonymous were also swift to revel in the attention that came their way, glibly tweeting links to the unfolding press coverage, and berating one particularly woeful piece from Reuters: “congratulations, your article on todays leaked call is the worst so far. Get your facts straight or don’t report at all.”
Among the numerous glaring errors in the Reuters piece was the claim that “details in the leaked FBI call [such as the identities of some suspected hackers] could prove uncomfortable for Anonymous.”
The truth is, the FBI didn’t reveal anything of note during the call, for the simple reason that they don’t have anything to reveal on Anonymous. Unless… and here comes the conspiracy theory: what if the phone call was deliberately leaked to Anonymous by the feds themselves, to lure the anons into a false sense of security and make them think that five-oh were way off the scent, only for the pigs to catch Anonymous off-guard and hit them with a series of pre-dawn raids?
Nah, I’m just fucking with you. The feds got pwned alright on this one.
#FuckFBIFriday aside, the question, once all the dust has settled, is where do Anonymous go from here? And more to the point, where do five-oh go from here? The feds have shown themselves to be woefully incompetent once again, while Anonymous continue to go from strength to strength, conducting rootings, raids, defacings and DDoS attacks at will, all the while garnering vast swathes of public support as they fight censorship, injustice, paedophiles and Nazis.
Anonymous is fast turning into the Robin Hood of the internet: decried as outlaws, but loved by a sizeable proportion of the public. They break the law with impunity; they taunt cops; they dox and mock, and yet they also provide copious servings of lolcats, and fight for oppressed minorities who are suffering under authoritarian regimes.
Since when did faceless ‘terrorists’ come equipped with so much roguish charm? If the Anonymous story reads like something out of a movie script, that’s because it inevitably soon will be.
A lulzy #FuckFBIFriday ended, around 2am GMT, with news that Anonymous had signed off by defacing the website of Newark Police. It was a trivial target, but one which warrants attention if only for the postscript that accompanied their defacing:
We see your attempts to waste more of the peoples money, to harass your citizens with preemptive crime fighting by shining red lights on them.
We are now shining our red lights on you,
The city of newark has suffered long enough at the hands of corrupt politicians police and other goverment officials.
PS: Fuck Jersey Shore
In the complex world of activists, hacktivists, white, grey and black hats, there’s not much we can all agree on, but we can certainly concur with that affable sentiment. It started, 12 hours earlier, with a call to Fuck the FBI, and it ended with a call to Fuck Jersey Shore. In between, it was just another Anonymous day on the internet. We should have expected it.
“UFOs. Incest. LOLcats. Gore. Nazis. Trolls. More LOLcats. Midgets. Bieber. Bestiality. Welcome to the internet, the home of free speech and free porn.”
“The American government would like to keep us in the dark, feeding us redacted information while they throat-fuck our civil liberties.”