Earlier this year, ThinkProgress exposed a plot concocted by a set of military contractors, working on behalf of the law firm for the corporate lobbying group called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to hack and sabotage progressive organizations, including, to our surprise, ThinkProgress. The ploy was made public by hacktivists known as Anonymous, who stole a batch of e-mails from one of the military contractors involved, HB Gary Federal, and dumped them online for all to see (the dump revealed a separate conspiracy, on behalf of Bank of America, to destroy WikiLeaks and journalists like Glenn Greenwald). One of the corporate hackers involved in the scheme, Aaron Barr, has moved on to another firm.
But during a visit to Las Vegas for a political conference last week, ThinkProgress came across HB Gary’s booth at a McAfee cyber security summit occurring in the same hotel — and found that HB Gary is shamelessly marketing its ability to protect against the very same illicit tactics they plotted to use against us and other liberal organizations.
ThinkProgress picked up a pamphlet HB Gary distributed at the McAfee conference for potential clients that warns ominously that a new wave of “politically motivated” hackers are using targeted data-stealing techniques and deceitful social networking exploits. HB Gary seems to be playing both sides of the equation. HB Gary essentially describes the same hacking strategy the firm planned to use against U.S. Chamber of Commerce critics like U.S. Chamber Watch, the SEIU, and ThinkProgress — then advertises itself as the only company capable of combating such attacks:
— HB Gary warns that hackers will “research targets of interest using ‘open source intelligence’ (OSINT)” to target employees through “networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.” According to documents obtained by ThinkProgress, HB Gary’s hacking plot against progressive organizations included an “intelligence” phase which called for scrubbing websites like LinkedIn and Facebook for information about the Chamber’s critics. The HB Gary effort, which began its initial phase before hacktivists shut it down, started targeting families and children of the Chamber’s critics.
— HB Gary warns that hackers will use “sophisticated…spearphishing attacks” and “zero day” exploits to steal information. HB Gary should be familiar with targeted computer viruses designed to steal user information; they offered to sell such services to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for use against its critics.
View a copy of the pamphlet here: