AnonOps Communications: Anonymous Launches A WikiLeaks For Hackers: HackerLeaks
Despite countless WikiLeaks copycats popping up since the secret-spilling site first dumped its cache of State Department cables last year, the new generation of leaking sites has produced few WikiLeaks-sized scoops. So instead of waiting for insider whistleblowers, the hacker movement Anonymous hopes that a few outside intruders might start the leaks flowing.
Earlier this week members of the hacker collective, and specifically a sub-group known as the People’s Liberation Front, (PLF) launched two new leaking sites, LocalLeaks.tk (not to be confused with the similarly named Localeaks.com) and HackerLeaks.tk. Both hope to receive documents through an anonymous submissions channel, analyze them, and then distribute them to the press to get “maximum exposure and political impact.”
But while LocalLeaks aims to use WikiLeaks’ model of insider sources to expose corruption on the local scale, HackerLeaks openly invites data thieves to upload documents through its submission system, so that they can be analyzed and publicized. “You download it, we’ll disclose it for you,” the site’s homepage reads, listing potential booty such as “databases, exploits, security flaws, documents, and email spools.”
On Tuesday, according to one of the hackers involved who goes by the name Commander X, the leaking site got its first submission: a list of the personal details of Orlando officials including addresses, home values, incomes and other data. That “leak,” which Commander X says was submitted anonymously to HackerLeaks but was posted, confusingly, on LocalLeaks, comes as Anonymous has been engaged in what it calls “Operation Orlando.” Since early Tuesday hackers have been launching attacks on Orlando-based targets including OrlandoFloridaGuide.com and the websites of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce and Universal Studios in retaliation for arrests of Orlando workers for the non-profit Food Not Bombs who lacked permits.
“These are the folks that wrote and are enforcing a very brutal law against very poor people,” Commander X, who says he is serving as the current “editor in chief” of the two sites, wrote to me over instant message. ”They themselves appear to be very very rich, so we thought we would point that out.”
And why is a leaking site necessary for hackers, who have lately used sites like Pastebin to publish information on their own? Commander X argues that Anonymous and the PLF have already established connections to the media outlets that can help better expose important data, and that they hope to also provide “unique and enlightening analysis.”
“We just wanted to make our own offering, compete in the disclosure marketplace and maybe fill a unique role if we can,” writes Commander X. He argues that part of that unique role is that HackerLeaks will be legal, despite publishing hacked materials. “We don’t obtain this material. We merely publish it. This violates no sane law anywhere.”
That’s an argument that sounds much like the one used by WikiLeaks, which has also published hacked data including Sarah Palin’s stolen emails and East Anglia University’s hacked emails related to climate change.
But that legal stance may be a tough sell for Commander X. Although he refused to comment on whether he had engaged directly in illegal hacking, he describes himself as “field commander of a global cyber militia” and says that he has had some part in Anonymous operations that have involved attacks on Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal in retaliation for their severing ties with WikiLeaks, as well as attacks on the governments of Tunisia, Iran, and Egypt.
Commander X was also named by HBGary Federal chief executive Aaron Barr in a planned presentation that aimed to out Anonymous’ leaders. But Barr misidentified the Anonymous hacker, who tells me he is a “50ish” American, as Ben De Vries, the founder of a Facebook group called Global Strike 2011. Barr’s digging incited Anonymous to attack HBGary Federal, dumping thousands of its emails in February on a site called AnonLeaks, Anonymous’ first experimentation with a WikiLeaks-like interface. Barr resigned later that month. Commander X says he wasn’t involved in the HBGary hack.
Commander X’s subgroup of Anonymous isn’t the only one that’s getting into the leaking game. The last release from the hacker group LulzSec included half a gigabyte of data from AT&T that has been reported to have come from an insider source at the company.
As part of its ongoing campaign known as AntiSec, aimed at exposing corporate and government data and humiliating security firms, one Anonymous twitter feed suggested earlier this week that leakers contact the group over IRC to spill insider secrets: “If you are working for a corrupt government/company,” wrote one Anonymous twitterer, “Leak the data.”