Review

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Of all the books we read this semester, I enjoyed We Are Anonymous the most. Tubes was fairly interesting, but it got very tedious reading the descriptions of unimportant events. I didn't enjoy the rhetoric books because I don't find rhetoric that interesting(it's crazy, I know). Weaving the Web was okay, but got really boring discussing consortium policies and his own personal beliefs on the internet. After We Are Anonymous, Networked was my second favorite. I found it interesting to read about social systems on the internet. Overall though, We Are Anonymous was the only book I found compelling and really wanted to read.

Chapter 15: Breaking Away

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Chapter 15 starts off by describing Topiary, as well as many of the other Anonymous members, backing away from Anonymous after Backtrace. Olson stated that by June of 2011, at least seventy-nine people in eighty countries would be arrested in connection with Anonymous (p.223). Overall, many user's were paranoid and afraid they be identified. Olson's main objective in this chapter is to show a chaotic downfall of Anonymous. Attacks were going on that were so drastic, and users were turning on one another. Another attack was directed towards Sony. Anons were upset that Sony had sued George Hotz after he had figured out how to jailbreak the PlayStation 2 game console and then sharing this information with others on his blog post. The Anons took revenge of course and launched a DDos attack on several Sony websites and its PlayStation Network for gamers, bringing it down and offline for millions of gamers. They brought the Sony websites down with their basic philosophy in mind, claiming that what Sony did to George was, "anti-freedom", "anti-expression", "anti-individulasim", and therefore, "anti-Anonymous" (p.227). Eventually Anons called the whole thing off, yet the PlayStation Network was still down and gamers personal and financial details were compromised, costing Sony over $1 billion (p.228). The Sony Operation was said to be hijacked by hackers who tried to use the attack as a cover up. Anonymous starts to look like a mess here, a joke, even having "a dishonorable feel to it" (p.228), their whole philosophy is in shatters. I think Olson really sets up the stage here to describe the Anonymous downfall, without it's key players. He leaves us with Topiary observing the whole thing, and wanting to get the HBGary hackers back together. He wants to show Anonymous something new, and "jaw-dropping" (p.230). Is Anonymous going to make a comeback?!

Anonymous

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In chapter 14 of Anonymous, Emick is talking about the anti-anonymous group that is trying to hunt down some of the group members. On page 205 it states, "Emick's goal was to show the world what Anonymous really was- vindictive, corrupt, and not really anonymous at all." This to me is very risky of Emick. She knows the world and what goes on with anonymous, but now she wants to risk everything to try and figure out who the people behind it are. On the same page it also states," it was the cruelty she was seeing more and more throughout the network.." This was her motivation to pull away from anonymous and try to help find out who was behind all of this. Emick formed a group of 6 people with her friend Byun to help try to bring Anonymous down, as Emick stated to Byun on page 209, "someone needs to stop them before something bad happens." They managed to compile a list of names and leaked it to the press. This took a lot of time and courage to do in my opinion, to announce that you had a hand in trying to uncover some of the members of this huge group. What amazes me is that a few years later, Emick actually outed herself at a conference saying she was the one who had leaked the list. Her knowing the power of this organization, and still leaking herself as the person who leaked the list is very risky in my point of view. In the end though after all of the work Emick put in, she was asked by the FBI to assist with their investigation on one of the people she had found information about. Overall, chapter 14 was actually a nice change of pace for the book. It wasn't all about the actual hackers' missions, but about trying to find out who was behind some it all. This book is extremely different from all the other ones we have read and keeps my attention.

Anonymous

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In chapter 14 of Anonymous, Emick is talking about the anti-anonymous group that is trying to hunt down some of the group members. On page 205 it states, "Emick's goal was to show the world what Anonymous really was- vindictive, corrupt, and not really anonymous at all." This to me is very risky of Emick. She knows the world and what goes on with anonymous, but now she wants to risk everything to try and figure out who the people behind it are. On the same page it also states," it was the cruelty she was seeing more and more throughout the network.." This was her motivation to pull away from anonymous and try to help find out who was behind all of this. Emick formed a group of 6 people with her friend Byun to help try to bring Anonymous down, as Emick stated to Byun on page 209, "someone needs to stop them before something bad happens." They managed to compile a list of names and leaked it to the press. This took a lot of time and courage to do in my opinion, to announce that you had a hand in trying to uncover some of the members of this huge group. What amazes me is that a few years later, Emick actually outed herself at a conference saying she was the one who had leaked the list. Her knowing the power of this organization, and still leaking herself as the person who leaked the list is very risky in my point of view. In the end though after all of the work Emick put in, she was asked by the FBI to assist with their investigation on one of the people she had found information about. Overall, chapter 14 was actually a nice change of pace for the book. It wasn't all about the actual hackers' missions, but about trying to find out who was behind some it all. This book is extremely different from all the other ones we have read and keeps my attention.

We are Anonymous

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What I find interesting when reading Chapter 16 in We Are Anonymous is when Sabu believed Anonymous's greatest power was its lack of hierarchy. I would disagree, although Anonymous seems to want everyone involved, there are those who stand out and are the "leaders" of Anonymous. I would consider Topiary, Sabu, and Kayla to be more of the role models, they are even more so now that they have started a new group called LulzSec. Even though they were trying to get away from the label Anonymous, they still brought many of its followers with them while making the Twitter account. Outsiders who aren't in Anonymous even think these are the same hackers from Anonymous. Looking back on the past Chapters I could see some levels of hierarchy, especially within the HBGary hack because of the elite groups they had for what they were each specifically doing. They even made some groups private so other Anonymous users couldn't see. Anonymous is just like any other group. They have the leaders and they have followers. Now I know not all of them are followers. The group is unique in the fact that many group members do their one thing on a regular basis just not as noticeable or damaging than those who are mainly the leaders. Also, it is different because it typically seems the leaders are more inclined to let those they see with potential in on an attack, when most groups aren't as welcoming. Since the group is Anonymous they don't really have much to judge on physical appearance or communication qualities (referencing to in person people skills), just what they specifically do on the Internet. All in all this book has been very interesting to read, I don't know much about hacking and the group Anonymous, but hearing their side of the story opens my eyes up a little to those behind the computer screen and what their thought process is in doing these hacks. Although, I might not agree with everything they do, there are some hacks, like the HBGary hack that makes a bit of since to me because in essence that attack was about saving those innocents he was going to give over to the officials. I am interested in how the ending comes together.

In chapter 14 of We Are Anonymous Parmy Olson argues that anti-hacker groups are becoming important in the hacker world to find the hacker's identity. Prior to this chapter, Olson had provided multiple examples of some behavior that some members of Anonymous didn't support. These examples made one person, Jennifer Emick, create an anti-hacker group with others to help discover the identities of Anonymous members.

As discussed earlier in the semester, an essential part of analyzing rhetoric is the ethos appeal. The ethos appeal deals with the composer's credibility while stating the argument. Anonymous works slightly different because the members have nicknames or false names instead of their true identities being open to the public. In fact, Anonymous makes it difficult to find their true identities. Rather the group as a whole provides ethos to the public from examples of taking down certain websites. Having group members be able to hide their identities from people provides a sense of credibility as being a good hacker.

Emick is a prime example of a person that wants to know who is all behind the Anonymous attacks. Emick is quoted in the book saying, "Emick saw young people who wanted to be part of a group of nameless bullies because they were getting picked on at school" (206). Emick begins a group called Backtrace with other people to investigate the members of Anonymous. Throughout the chapter Olson writes about examples that Backtrace did in order to find certain names of hackers. In the end, Backtrace released a list of 70 actual names of the hackers. Even though the list contained these names, not all were correct. Olson states, "What they [hackers] didn't know was that while Backtrace had been wrong on many names, a few, including Sabu, had been spot on" (215).

The reason anti-hacker groups are important is because one name may lead to more names or scare hackers from still hacking. The issue in remaining hidden for hackers shows their ethos of a god hacker being compromised. With the hacker's ethos taking a hit, they might stop their hacking or slow down. As Olson highlighted in chapter 14, more anti-hacker groups could help slow down the hacking groups like Anonymous.

In Chapter 13 of "We Are Anonymous" Parmy Olson writes this: "Chanology and Operation Payback had shown that if they were manipulated in the right way, Anons in their hundreds would suddenly want to collaborate on a raid or project. But the key to that was making the raid fun and exciting." (p. 195)

This has been a constant key to Anonymous operations, not only to persuade masses of people into participating in an operation or "raid" but to make them feel like they're actually part of something big, even if the role they're playing is less than significant. This is an odd trait within the collective considering that the most successful Anonymous operations in history have been carried by small handfuls of people (like in the case of LulzSec). Yet, recruitment drives are constant for a very specific reason.

A good example of this are DDOS attacks, which Olson describes as being waged by two types of soldiers: those using the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) and those commanding vast legions of zombie computers called botnets. (p. 74) As Olson points out in that same section, botnets are vastly more powerful than LOIC, which is comparatively a popgun that requires thousands upon thousands of users all firing it at once to inflict notable damage. Olson also points out that as Anonymous matured and grew, the need for LOIC became less and less necessary to actually bring websites down. (p. 74)

Yet, well into 2011, Anons were still being asked and persuaded through ominous "Message to Scientology"-styled videos to participate in big DDOS attacks, even though the operations were primarily being carried out by a handful of large botnet commanders.

The reason for this was simple: botnets are very difficult to track and bring down. LOIC however, despite what the software claims, does not protect those who use it from having their IPs tracked. Many additional steps are required for those firing that cannon to keep their location safe. But many users didn't realize that, nor were they made explicitly aware of this.

Therefore the need for mass participation was simple: let the "newfags" fire LOIC at the target while the botnets are hitting the website. The website goes down and the other Anons in the attack think they've done something great and are willing to help with further operations. The illusion of participation and success excited many to join the cause against the enemies of WikiLeaks and later the entirety of the cybersecurity industry.

The Paypal attack described by Olson (p. 110) was largely carried out by botnets. Yet, those who were arrested months later -- many of them 16-year-olds in highschool who had their houses raided by SWAT teams -- were using LOIC to attack financial institutions, while those controlling botnets remained at large and unknown until much later. The main perpetrators, those running LulzSec, were found and tracked much later than they would have been had the FBI not been running around chasing false or insignificant leads tracking those using LOIC.

The individualist and anonymous nature of the collective lends itself to the weakest being picked off and sacrificed to the feds without barely a care. And that's the danger of getting involved with Anonymous without entering with eyes wide open: they will manipulate you into participating and then let you take the fall.

Anonymous

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Well I have to say that my eyes have been opened by this book. I admit that hacking was one of those things I knew and probably still know very little about. I find it interesting how Parmy Olson discusses the different people who are involved in Anonymous and what their goals and desires are. These aren't just pimply 15 year olds who can't get a date and don't know how to function socially. In most cases they are adults who have normal lives. That scares me. The desire some of these individuals have to cause chaos and destrustion in others lives seems almost pathological. Many times Olson refers to the hackers "need" to hack almost like it is an addiction. Especially Kayla who is shown to have an almost obsessive-compulsive need to hack. It seems that she does it for no real political or philosophical reason but she just because she can. It seems to me that many of these individuals develop almost a god complex. They mess with peoples online lives just because they have the power too. It makes them feel strong and superior. They many times just come off as the pocket protector group who have been given a super power so they then become the school yard bullies. The "I'm stronger then you now so I'm going to beat you up and take your lunch because you made fun of me". It's unfortunate because I think some of these individuals really do want to point out corruption and hold government and large corporations accountable for their actions but their message gets lost behind the malicious actions of the ones who do it for petty reasons.

I'm glad I am reading this book it is giving me an insight into something that I thought never really concerned me and would have no impact on me. However, I am coming to realize in the "networked" world that we now live in these things do impact me and so I should really attempt to understand it. The concept of six degrees of seperation applies here, however, I feel that with the interconnectedness of the internet there are now much fewer then six degrees seperating us all. We are coming closer and closer to being one global community and so the actions of Anonymous, Wikileaks and other similar entities on groups and organizations that I have no tangible connect too, do affect me. And so, to be a good global citizen I think we should concern ourselves with the actions of such groups. We need to not only hold governement and big business accountable but also these groups because they have a tendency to bring out the worst in some individuals and with no structured heirarchy within the organization there are no rules and you get what I like to call the "Lord of the Flies" effect. Where everyone is out to do what is best for their own goals and they will do anything to achieve them no matter what the consequences are.

Reading this book has completely blown my mind away. I'm not going to lie; I have been very naïve as to what I thought other individuals could do with the information one has shared on the Internet. After reading the first half of this book, I have already become extremely conscious of what I think is appropriate to share online. It is important for people to be mindful of what they share and to know their information is never entirely private or secure. This book has made me aware of how powerful some Internet users are.
In chapter nine, The Revolutionary, it reveals Monsegur's (Sabu) history and how he became an Anonymous veteran. In the beginning of the chapter, it explains Monsegur's childhood and how his interest in hacktivism arose. On page 135, a quote from the "The Hacker's Manifesto," written by Lloyd Blankenship said, "My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for." This line is what made Monsegur the person he is today. He enjoyed the idea challenging authority members. Growing up as a child, he felt disrespected and misunderstood by many authoritative individuals that surrounded him. Monsegur expressed that, "online he could live out his ambitions and avoid the disrespect he felt from figures of authority" (137). When "Sabu" was created in the Anonymous chat rooms, Monsegur's hacking routine quickly developed. He eventually was able to shut down entire systems and create a stir among large regions.
What I thought was extremely disturbing was the fact that he was able to use another Internet users computer to hack Tunisia's government because of their aggressive Internet censoring of its citizens. Although this individual volunteered to be his proxy into Tunisia's Internet, it was evident that Monsegur used him to boost his own self-image. He wanted to make a big impact and would do anything he could do achieve it. On page 139, he states, "We humans suffer from egos." This statement was proved true when Monsegur said he did not feel guilty after his volunteer was arrested. It was a mission he desired to complete and he did not let anything prevent that from happening or feeling satisfied about his accomplishments.

Parmy Olson: WE ARE ANONYMOUS Chapters 1-3

"Ruining people's lives gave William a thrill, and a sense of power unlike anything he had felt in the outside world. The only other time he felt anything similar was when he would quietly slip outside his house in the dead of night, meet up with a few old friends, and spray colorful graffiti on the local walls or trains" (Olson, p. 30).

Upon reading the beginning of We Are Anonymous, I am enraged at Topiary, Sabu, and Kayla for viciously ceasing control of Aaron Barr. An Internet assault of this caliber is personal and highly destructive. The Internet Centrist perspective would argue that the Internet is creating new opportunities for conflict, immorality, and evil behavior, like using the discovered password to expand beyond email to Barr's Facebook, twitter, Yahoo!, and World of Warcraft accounts. Overachieving beyond their goal of accessing email was malicious. I believe that intentional destruction of others is nothing new and that it cannot be attributed to the capabilities of the World Wide Web. The new media platform encourages different kinds of human conflict, and the most fascinating part is the psychological patterns that remain consistent through past, present, and future. The 'group think' mentality happens among hackers separated by states, countries, continents, and hemispheres. These hackers are a unique breed with talent and skills most of the population will never acquire. Their potential for inflicting immense distress upon any and every chosen victim is daunting. The group 'Anonymous' believes information should be free. They are knowledgeable. Knowledge is power, but they use their knowledge to unjustly demolish people that do not agree with their beliefs. For this reason, their ability and actions demonstrated in the beginning of the book are negative examples so far of what humans can implement using free information. So far, the text fails to get the reader to understand these hackers or their ferocious mission: "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us." The text successfully demonstrates that this army is powerful, and this army seems hypocritical.

I plan to approach the rest of this book looking at the capabilities and tendencies of all humans alike despite the Internet platform as an enabler. Humans that hack, humans that vandalize, humans that break the law, and humans that attack one another... Evengy Morozov describes Wicked Problems in his book The Net Delusion, and Olson's first chapters of We Are Anonymous demonstrate some of the Wicked Problems that permeate humanity, especially our evil tendencies. Finally, I think the "group think" aspect is just as powerful as the anonymity of the group when it comes to taking action against others.