A little noticed bit of computer security

A while back this very strange thing happened.

A few men with beards entered the United States, shaved, went to a strip club and then flew airplanes into buildings.

I know this happened because I saw it from sixth avenue somewhere between West 4th Street and Houston.  People who did not see this sometimes try to tell me it was some sort of conspiracy but I am very sure I saw this because this is one of those things that is impossible to forget.  My perception was a bit off though because I thought people jumping out of the North tower were birds and I almost wish I still believed that today, but I do not.

Anyway, things were weird after that. People walked around with this expression on their face that looked like they could either burst into tears at any moment or that they were going to start screaming until someone gave them Haldol.  During this time of contorted faces there was also a time where self styled “Internet Vigilantes” would target Muslims, people who opposed targeting Muslims, and “Liberals” (said by people who use the term liberal like they use the term faggot; not meaning a bundle of sticks).  It was quite revolting but the climate was such that it was very difficult to do anything.  I once got a death threat online for opposing the use of Neutron bombs to wipe out Muslims (in hindsight that was a discussion where I should not have tried to use calm, collected facts).  Some of the people doing this targeting were self described “hackers” and so some friends and myself went to work opposing them but we did so in secret.  Like most bullies, these people had no problem asking authorities to back up their menacing and the environment we were in then made it so the authorities would most likely help them.

So, we had a team together.  I am not even sure what you would call us but perhaps it is something that is best not to be named.  I did research and tracking, another friend of mine found and then baited the targets to attack and another fellow, named Kevin Bacon (not the actor but he used his famous namesake to make sure he never appeared on a google search) did damage control by use of his law enforcement connections to realize that the people carrying out the cyber attacks and harassment were more akin to terrorists than American Muslims and anti-War activists. (I use Kevin’s name because he is no longer with us.  He died sometime in 2010 but it is hard to get the information since googling “Kevin Bacon” and “Died” does not produce anything useful).

One group we did (not naming names though I can via private correspondence) took us about four years to end.  It was simply because we were patient and not that we were slow or clueless.  Many of these kinds of people have such short term memories that they assume if they were not arrested right after the incident then that meant they were safe.  This group of hackers actually had only one skilled hacker who, for some reason willingly did illegal things but he was terrified of the consequences.  I caught him by contacting a System Administrator at a University in Singapore that was a favorite proxy of the group.  At first he was a bit cocky with me, denying the existence of the proxy and then admitting he set it up for “friends only” and when I named dropped a school administrator who would have been his supervisor he became incredibly cooperative.  I was delivered log files for the proxy for the times of the attacks I was researching.  I gave the IP of the user to Kevin, and Kevin called up an ISP after one of his Law Enforcement contacts called the ISP and told them to expect Kevin’s call.

So we got a name tied to four years of death threats and four years of various cyber attacks.  When you contact someone like this they go through a “Stages of Death” like Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote down so many years ago.

1. Denial & Anger (lots of threats ranging from violence, lawsuits, and police involvement)

2. Bargaining (there is one word you can say..for this one is was “Singaporean Proxy Logs” that gets them to calm down and try to negotiate)

3. Depression (when you inform them that the only way nothing will happen to them is to do exactly as you say…this really bums them out)

4. Acceptance. (they agree to your terms and become happy because it is inevitable)

This fellow gave up and paid restitution (plus interest that we set at 10%) to those we tracked down and he ratted out all of his friends and told us everything about them.

All this because of 9/11 and I am certain there were similar groups doing similar attacks then too…..But that was a lot of fun.  I love doing this sort of work but it is really difficult to put in a resume.



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