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Accused LulzSec Members Left Trail of Clues Online 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the didn't-need-sherlock-for-this-one dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "When the long arm of the law reached in to arrest members of Anonymous's senior leadership on Tuesday, speculation immediately turned to the identities of the six men behind the Guy Fawkes mask. With the benefit of hindsight, it turns out that many had been hiding in plain sight, with day jobs, burgeoning online lives and — for those who knew where to look — plenty of clues about their extracurricular activities on behalf of the world's most famous hacking crew. Two of the accused, Darren Martyn (aka 'pwnsauce,' 'raepsauce,' and 'networkkitten,') and Donncha O'Cearbhail, formerly known as Donncha Carroll (aka 'Palladium'), sported significant online footprints and made little effort to hide their affinity for hacking. In other areas, however, Martyn (who was reported to be 25, but claimed to be 19), seemed to be on his way to bigger and better things. He was a local chapter leader of the Open Web Application Security Project in Galway, Ireland. He spent some of his free time with a small collective of computer researchers with Insecurety Research, under the name 'infodox.'"
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Accused LulzSec Members Left Trail of Clues Online

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  • So it goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Securityemo (1407943) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:11PM (#39319885) Journal
    They're all human, obviously. And perhaps the risk aversion that would have driven them to meticulously fly under the radar ultimately would have prevented them from creating such a spectacle in the first place?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem usually seems to be bragging and telling others things that they absolutely do not need to know.

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @10:13PM (#39322493) Journal

        Hackers nowadays don't even know the rules of hacking

        First rule of hacking - Don't leave any trail behind

        Second rule of hacking - Leave false leads

        • by decora (1710862) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @11:17PM (#39322911) Journal

          Sabu was essentially an FBI agent. all the hacks that happened within the past 6 months under the guise of anonymous were, essentially, controlled and directed by the FBI. the FBI even hosted servers for them to use in their operation.

          the first rule of hacking would seem to be - if someone asks you to do something illegal and stupid, it's probably an FBI sting operation.

      • Re:So it goes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lightknight (213164) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @11:49PM (#39323053) Homepage

        Cultural programming. If you're going to do something illegal, be sure to announce it to the world: that means you need to be sure to tell a friend, a family member, talk about it on an IRC channel, or with a stranger at a bar. And if you're brought it for questioning, be sure to share a jail cell with a snitch, because it's always a good idea to confide in a criminal. Be sure to tell him that you totally did it, and have no remorse for your actions. Hell, if you are lucky enough, you'll get a roommate who will tell the people in charge that you've confessed, even if you haven't; don't worry, the judge will totally believe him (the standards for evidence these days is abysmal).

        And I second Taco Cowboy's post. I believe the rule, back in the day, was to launch an attack through several boxes (SSH -> SSH -> SSH -> SSH -> SSH), and being especially sure to kill the syslogger before doing anything. Finally, be sure to launch it all from a laptop that you haven't used for anything else, on a connection that isn't your own.

        And yes, the false leads are useful. The FBI loves it when they spend time tracing the breadcrumbs back to one of their own boxes (surprising the number of attacks, over the years, that have been launched from www.fbi.gov).

        Finally, never reuse a box you've used before. Laptop gets an extra squeaky clean format (and a copy of Slack or something), and all boxes between point A and Z are now permanently off-limits. Keep a good lawyer on retainer, and never h@x0r a box inside your own country. Never use a nickname that you've used or mentioned elsewhere (randomly generated is the way to go). For me, were I to engage in some hypothetical cracking, I would never use 'lightknight' as the login, password, or key to anything. Wouldn't reuse the password tied to this account either.

        • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Monday March 12, 2012 @01:28AM (#39323549)
          Never tell your MO. You have just described the guy that hacked my employers systems. The only way you know how they did that, is if you were that guy. Busted!
        • Re:So it goes (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @03:01AM (#39323897)

          Rules to Hack and stay Free by:

          1. Never hack where you sleep, live, work, go to school, play, etc. To extend this idea a little, never hack from a location where there is any way at all to correlate your real identity. This includes public wifi spots where there are cameras, for example. As another example, if you use a library (assuming they don't also have cameras) it would be a bad idea to check a book out... or even have a card there.
          1b. This also includes recon and conversations related to hacking.
          1c. Leave your cellphone at home, or remove the battery.

          2. Most hackers can't afford to use a fresh, clean system for every hack or related activity. If you can, great. But if not, be sure you use a fully sanitized system, preferably one reserved just for hacking. A clean system running a non-installed OS and relying on virtual machines is the best option, encryption is a must-have and you absolutely have to be able to alter your NIC's MAC address. The hardware virtualization should be able to be altered so that nothing about the system will generate a consistent "fingerprint" across boots.

          3. Do not use public proxies or ones supplied by a 3rd party. Use only systems which you have personally compromised as a proxy agent.
          3b. All proxies should be regarded as already compromised, or even as honeypots. They should only be used to slow down the hunters, and assume that eventually they may yield some information even if they get scrubbed.

          4. Leave false trails when it is practical.
          4b. It is better to not leave a false trail, then it is to leave a false one and in the process create another real one.

          5. Never re-use handles, login names, passwords, drop locations, proxies, etc. Consider all that data one-time use only.

          6. Last, and most important is: Never become attached to anything which you cannot walk away from if you feel the Heat coming.

          Most hackers violate all these rules on a regular basis. They get lazy and sloppy, so they hack from home and re-use systems. They brag about what they did, intermix details of their real life with various handles, and re-use names, passwords, locations, and methods. People who don't follow these rules are Amateurs, not Professionals. Professionals can walk away from their entire real life if it ends up becoming compromised... most people who hack cannot do this and as such will never truly be "Elite".

    • Re:So it goes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:17PM (#39319927) Homepage

      Hubris. A douchebag's own worst enemy. And rightfully so.

    • Dump summery (Score:5, Informative)

      by Weezul (52464) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:44PM (#39320119)

      LulzSec were their own hacker group operating under their own name to bolder their own egos. Please don't conflate them with Anonymous.

      LulzSec shared some aims and humor with Anonymous, but they always wanted to be identified. And that egotism helped get them caught.

      • by elucido (870205) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @05:40PM (#39320521)

        And there is nothing more to say about it.

        Let me make something clear to any would be members of these groups or individuals who think hackers are cool. If you are a hacker expect to go to jail. Don't protest or do anything which isn't worth going to jail for. Most of the hacks these individuals participated in were not the sort of stuff that in hindsight they will believe was worth sacrificing their life for.

        These individuals may not be physically dead but they have no future, no career. The rumored snitch Sabu has it the worst because if what they say about him is true he's not going to be accepted in the criminal or police world so he's fucking gone.

        LulzSec always seemed like a dumbass group. I'm not a big fan of the whole AntiSec agenda, and I don't think LulzSec can be compared to Anonymous. LulzSec was not defending human rights in any way, while at least with Anonymous you have people who believe in something other than lulz.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. This makes them bloody amateurs and highly vulnerable to classical law-enforcement approaches. Add to that that they pissed of a lot of people even some sympathetic to what anonymous tries to do with their anarchistic approach that did not stop from attacking individuals, an you have a recipe for disaster. I am not at all surprised they got caught.

      In addition, I strongly suspect their fabled abilities as hackers are vastly overstated too and they just went for the low-hanging fruits. Plenty of those

    • Also, on a more cheerful and lively note, I think one of the songs on ohGrs most recent album is about the events leading up to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8fFqEdQQZQ [youtube.com]
  • by mrmeval (662166) <`mrmeval' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:26PM (#39319985) Journal

    They're children going up against people who have been trained to play this game by masters at it. They were nothing until they became a significant irritant and when that happened they ended up under a sledgehammer. It is a most dangerous game where you cannot make a mistake at as your life is at stake. I don't know how badly they will fall but they're tagged now and most likely will be assigned to someone to watch for some time to come.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by elucido (870205)

      They're children going up against people who have been trained to play this game by masters at it. They were nothing until they became a significant irritant and when that happened they ended up under a sledgehammer. It is a most dangerous game where you cannot make a mistake at as your life is at stake. I don't know how badly they will fall but they're tagged now and most likely will be assigned to someone to watch for some time to come.

      And the worst part is these people don't seem at all prepared to get caught and go to jail. Sabu had a child? But he thought it was cool to hack the CIA and DOJ? Maybe he should have thought about what the government would do to his children before he messed with them. Common sense, if you mess with the government they do go after your family and they will treat you like a terrorist.

      • by mrmeval (662166)

        I think they're very young and very naive I vaguely remember being that naive and reckless though I never had that level of skill with software. I can't say the FBI treated them any differently as in the past but a lot of barriers on government actions have been wrecked and a bureaucrat can command a whole lot of power.

  • Story time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:29PM (#39319999)
    A bit of time ago, I met a man who was very good at computer and physical security. He works now as a consultant for a local law enforcement agency; They bring him in for high tech crimes that are beyond their resources to crack. I know I'm being a bit short on details here, but bear with me. Anyway, he became a consultant because in his earlier life, he had gotten into some financial hardship and made a couple poor judgement calls, as seems to happen so often to otherwise highly intelligent people. Well, part of that contract was that he had to work for some unsavory folk helping them bypass security. That group of individuals then graduated from protection racket and simple ID theft to clearing out a dozen floors of a skyscraper under cover of darkness.

    The police didn't know what to do, and they didn't make it public because the enormity of the crime would have rocked the downtown financial district. Now my friend didn't want to be doing this forever, but he was rather stuck -- because now that the crimes were done, he was a liability, but at the same time, an asset to the organization he worked for. He knew it was only a matter of time before the liability side of the equation exceeded his usefulness and they ended him.

    So he did what anyone would do: He asked for help. Not straight out. Not directly, because he was under surveillance all the time by his "friends". So he started leaving clues. Misplaced equipment that would, say, print out his initials over and over again when found later at the crime scene. Subtle things. But enough that law enforcement got the idea that someone was trying to say "help me get out."

    Eventually, without his testimony being needed, they were able to piece together the bread crumb trail and nail the entire criminal organization in one sweep. He had to do time of course, but after only a year or so, they let him out on a very generous probation on one condition: Help them solve other crimes too complex for them to deal with.

    Now there was no movie ever made about this guy, no book deals, nothing. But he's not the first, he surely won't be the last, and I think it would behoove you people to consider that these people might have wanted to get caught. Sometimes people just get tired. Sometimes they have a change of heart. Sometimes they find out that it was all fun and games until they found out who was writing the paycheck. These "security researchers" are more than likely ex-members of similar organizations that are doing the same thing for the lulzsec people that someone else once did for them: Extradite them from a situation they've gotten too far into.

    So people, just remember: You may have their names. It's almost assured you do not have their story.
    • I take your story at face value, but remember that the things they're known for doing are hacking for fun and political attention-grabbing. Presumably they could have just stopped. I guess they might have felt pressure about having a proverbial damocles sword above their heads for years to come?
    • Re:Story time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:43PM (#39320109)

      So he did what anyone would do: He asked for help. Not straight out. Not directly, because he was under surveillance all the time by his "friends". So he started leaving clues. Misplaced equipment that would, say, print out his initials over and over again when found later at the crime scene. Subtle things. But enough that law enforcement got the idea that someone was trying to say "help me get out."

      No offense but that sounds like complete crap. How many initials are we talking about here? Two? Three? It's stupid. Anyone doing stuff like this would increase massively their chance of being considered a liability without actually helping themselves at all. Their surveilance didn't pick up on the weird stuff he was doing, rigging equipment to print his intitials, but would have noticed if he'd put a letter in the post? WTF?

      • Their surveilance didn't pick up on the weird stuff he was doing, rigging equipment to print his intitials, but would have noticed if he'd put a letter in the post? WTF?

        So how would you get a message to the authorities, had you been in his situation? I eagerly await your response, knowing full well you'd have to do the same thing.

      • Their surveilance didn't pick up on the weird stuff he was doing, rigging equipment to print his intitials, but would have noticed if he'd put a letter in the post?

        That's the problem with street thugs these days, always playing with printers and other office gear, running diagnostics and what not, when they could be smoking a joint and listening to tunes.

    • Re:Story time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:47PM (#39320149)

      A bit of time ago, I learnt that no clever criminal tells true stories of their past to their acquaintances, especially not ones prone to repeat said stories online.

      Either you're full of shit or your "man" is.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        When it's past the statute of limitations, speaking details is still stupid to reveal, but technique is not. If information can keep a curious kid from getting ass raped by the system, that is a good thing.

        Problem is most of the kids today wont listen.

        • Re:Story time (Score:4, Interesting)

          by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @11:07PM (#39322845)

          When it's past the statute of limitations, speaking details is still stupid to reveal, but technique is not. If information can keep a curious kid from getting ass raped by the system, that is a good thing.

          A good observation unfortunately lost to this crowd. They all imagine themselves to be capable of being criminal masterminds, and think that it's only "stupid" people that get caught, and other self-deluding beliefs. And in either event, nobody seems to have noticed that I pointed out the person in question here did, in fact, get busted. Guilty. Convicted. There's no reason left to lie, and given that I have met this person in real life, at a real police station, with real suspects, and seen real evidence sitting on his very real desk, all the admonishments of the wannabe intellectual crowd here on slashdot means nothing to me. They're too into themselves to realize that most criminal activity doesn't happen for the reasons they think it does. I've talked to this person's coworkers; They just as often feel bad for the person they're dragging in for questioning as not -- not because they think he's innocent, but because they can understand why he did what they're charging him with. But a crime is a crime, you know... and everybody has a story. It doesn't change the fact they have a job to do, and the reasons for doing it really just do not matter.

          That's all I wanted to point out about the lulzsec members: There's probably a story here that's quite different than what's known or being published. Only very rarely does the media get the full story at the time of arrest. Hell, even after a conviction, there's usually a lot of unanswered questions. If they've managed to stay ahead of law enforcement for this long, there's a reason for that even if we don't know it. And there's a reason they're being brought in now too, and I'm pretty sure we don't know that reason either. But... I can offer my experience and knowledge here and suggest that, whatever lulzsec was publicly, privately there was probably organized criminal activity that was creating profit for someone... and these arrests are probably just the tip of a much larger iceberg. Doing it "for the lulz" has got to be one of the stupidest reasons for organized crime I've ever heard and I'm really disappointed anyone here believes that.

    • The conclusion from this story is that the government could be forcing captured members of anonymous into their own evil (yes I said evil, I can't believe it either) plans.

      Here we have an activist group exposing the extramarital relation of government and big banks and surveillance business and the police's only reaction is to go after those who exposed the problem, and now we have forced labor under treat against public interests, how is that not evil?

    • The story is pretty good. I'd make a movie script out of it.

      Ok, it's not good. But better than the average movie script today, so I guess you'd have a chance.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      At least you posted this under an account instead of an Anonymous Coward.

      Now to peruse your post history and see whether I tend to agree or disagree with you before I decide whether to take your statement at face value or not.

      Not that I'll bother posting what I decide. Just saying I appreciate you making that possible -- it lends credence to your statement.

    • Bullsh*t. Nice story, but bullsh*t.

  • by Njovich (553857) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:38PM (#39320057)

    The things they mention sound just like any other security specialist. How is it obvious from this information they did all this stuff?

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:39PM (#39320063) Homepage Journal

    Remember that kids. Its not only servers which log connections. Routers can do it as well. Don't do it from McDonalds because they use CCTV. Steal a connection but try not to leave DNA and only use any given connection once. Don't use a car which can be traced to you either. Don't associate with other hackers because they are probably spies. Don't promote your activities on twitter etc because that makes it too fucking easy for the police to come and get you.

    Also in the summary its supposed to be "plain sight", not "plain site". They are two different words.

    • From what I could tell, they could've avoided being caught by simply keeping their mouth shut and not tell their life story to each other.

    • Yes. Do it from the telecom's central office. They love that.

  • The Irish Connection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CanEHdian (1098955) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @04:41PM (#39320081)
    Isn't it funny that these two guys in the story, Darren Martyn and Donncha O'Cearbhaill happen to be the ones that are currently not in US custody? Are we already setting the scene for the extradiction process?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Luckily for Martyn and Ó Cearall, the Irish Supreme Court just made their extradition—if it were sought by the US or anyone else—a lot more difficult. Last week's Ian Bailey case confirmed that if an Irish citizen (as I assume these two are) commits an act within the State which is a criminal offence under Irish law, they will not be extradited upon request, but rather they will be tried in Ireland. If acquitted, or if the DPP decides there is not enough evidence to prosecute (or decides no

  • God bless those freedom fighers. May this arrest teach the others to burrow a bit deeper next time.
  • "It's about laws and ethics, and people have to determine whether they want to follow the speed limit, follow the law," Thomas Brennan, who is a director of OWASP's parent group, told Reuters. "We have the same skill set as the bad guys, but the only difference is ethics."

    The law is about morality. It's ethical to break the law provided you have no possibility of getting caught or paying the consequences. It only becomes unethical when the consequences outweigh the benefits. Morality isn't about the consequences of following a certain law, morality is about what you are conditioned to do based on trends, religion, tradition.

    Anyone can be moral. Simply do exactly what society expects you to do and no more. To be ethical however requires you to do what produces the best conseq

    • Wow. What dictionary do you use?

      My dictionary (Funk & Wagnalls) gives about a dozen definitions for moral and 3 for ethical, and there's very little to distinguish one from the other (ethics seems to be a bit more technical).

      Anyone can be moral. Simply do exactly what society expects you to do and no more.

      So in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia morality consisted of snitching on your neighbors. In modern "liberal democracies" it consists of living on the dole.

      Actual morality (and ethics) in its highest for

      • by elucido (870205)

        Wow. What dictionary do you use?

        My dictionary (Funk & Wagnalls) gives about a dozen definitions for moral and 3 for ethical, and there's very little to distinguish one from the other (ethics seems to be a bit more technical).

        Anyone can be moral. Simply do exactly what society expects you to do and no more.

        So in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia morality consisted of snitching on your neighbors. In modern "liberal democracies" it consists of living on the dole.

        Actual morality (and ethics) in its highest form consists of striving to become a great person; to be someone who would have been considered honorable by Plutarch.

        Morals aren't based on science. Morals are based on what feels right, or based on religion, or based on what is or isn't legal.

        Ethics (consequentialist ethics) are based on what can be determined to produce the best consequences. You win a war by applying ethical strategies. Game theory is ethics, business involves ethics, winning a competition and pursuing self interest involves ethics.

        You can be a moral person and be completely unethical if your morality is deontological. The 10 commandments are an exampl

        • What feels right is based on evolutionary psychology; human nature as determined by the physiology of the brain. Religion has nothing to do with it. Morality is all science of the structure of the human brain. Religion is just another way of expressing this structure.

          • by elucido (870205)

            What feels right is based on evolutionary psychology; human nature as determined by the physiology of the brain. Religion has nothing to do with it. Morality is all science of the structure of the human brain. Religion is just another way of expressing this structure.

            Or it could be the opposite. Religion conditions the brain to rewire itself which changes psychology. If all the people who thought differently or who had a different psychology were killed off by the church or didn't reproduce then this would explain it. How likely are prisoners to reproduce?

          • by elucido (870205)

            What feels right is based on evolutionary psychology; human nature as determined by the physiology of the brain. Religion has nothing to do with it. Morality is all science of the structure of the human brain. Religion is just another way of expressing this structure.

            Another flaw in your argument, you ignore the fact that if you put an animal into a skinner box you can change it's psychology. You can condition a rat to feel a certain way when a certain tone is played. You can condition dogs to feel a certain way after a certain stimulus. This is fact and if this is true then it explains the purpose of religion and law.

            You can say capitalism is evolution too but it doesn't change the fact that different forms of capitalism influence the evolution of the human species via

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "The law is about morality." It has not been about that for centuries. Maybe that is what they taught you in Grade school but in reality it is very different.

      The law is about power. Laws give others power over the masses. outside of a small subset of 7 true laws, everything else is about control and power.

      • The law is about maintaining the positions of the people in power. Hence all rebellions and uprisings are illegal.

  • by elucido (870205) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @06:06PM (#39320707)

    Not just dumping random documents of stuff which only functions as PR but actual evidence.

    If the US government is committing war crimes or if some other government is, then produce the evidence and take it to the UN. Even if nothing happens at least the world will know and this sort of activity makes sense. But what LulzSec was doing was not exposing war crimes, or protecting life, or protecting human rights, they were going around stealing credit card information and other really stupid crimes. They were going with this anti-sec f the police mentality.

    There are police who believe in human rights and who have family and children. Anonymous isn't providing any evidence of any illegal activity which the police could use to do anything. If the issue is the police are too corrupt to do anything then where is the evidence of police corruption? Basically Anonymous is breaking laws just to break them and hacking just to hack in many cases.

    And now it seems every protest they do requires some sort of illegal activity. Maybe they'd get more people to support them if not every protest requires DDOS attacks or taking down websites or breaking laws. Some people have a lot to lose, have families, and cannot afford to break the law. Some people are the police, or are in positions of authority.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @09:27PM (#39322211)

    Every time they make this claim, I can't help but giggle.

    • I know what you mean. It's a cell operation, with no true leadership elements, and the people / the number of people participating at any moment is in constant flux.

      Trying to get that point across to the press is quite trying.

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