I don’t care much for Anonymous or other hackers. But I’m not weeping for the sake of the FBI’s computer security either.
(Reuters) – Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week.
The hackers exploited a flaw in Adobe Systems Inc’s software to launch a rash of electronic break-ins that began last December, then left “back doors” to return to many of the machines as recently as last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a memo seen by Reuters.
The memo, distributed on Thursday, described the attacks as “a widespread problem that should be addressed.” It said the breach affected the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many more agencies.
I don’t justify what these hackers have allegedly done. But why is it just fine for the NSA to use our own money to degrade our cybersecurity and hack our email and internet use, when they prosecute others for doing the same thing? Did these hackers violate someone’s property or is their real crime that they violated a government monopoly?
Interestingly, Cisco doesn’t blame US hackers for the reason why their earnings are down in foreign markets. No, they think the news about NSA spying through US companies is having a small but real impact on their earnings.
The line between hackers and the US Government gets even more blurry in the case of the prosecution of Jeremy Hammond. Hammond is getting ten years in prison for stealing private data (he claims he did it for political reasons, not for private gain). Yet, from his story, it is obvious that Hammond’s hacking was directed by an FBI informant and actually used by the FBI that is now prosecuting him. As Mike Masnick writes in TechDirt:
The court forced everyone to redact part of the speech — where he names who else he hacked at the direction of Sabu, including foreign governments. When you think about this, it seems particularly obnoxious. Basically, the FBI had Sabu tell Hammond to hack into the computers of foreign governments and now Hammond gets the book thrown at him because of that. Does anyone think that the feds didn’t make use of that access to foreign government computers? It’s a pretty neat trick: trick a hacktivist to break into the computers of foreign governments for you and then throw him in jail for ten years.
So the government used and directed the same act from which they have certainly benefited but for which they are punishing the actor as a criminal.