The LulzSec. Compare with Ralewyn Gray (green face in top hat).
I suppose it's indicative of the way I think about these things that for the first little while after encountering the news stories and tweets about LulzSec, I thought the "Sec" stood for "secretary" as in "Secretary of State". (It turns out that it stands for "security.")
The b-tard iconic image of the old-fashioned monocled man in the top-hat looks like a diplomat, and that's part of it. I just don't tend to think "security" first in my line of work.
LulzSec looks for all the world like Runny Panacek (now permabanned in SL) whose name before that was Ralewyn, and before that ..hmm...I forget. It was usually the same kind of name, and it was usually that get-up in the top-hat with the eye-glass and the "tut-tut" "wut-wut" -- and of course "lol-wut" and "srs bsns" shtick.
Of course, there's a frenzy of fan-fic around this character, predictably from the usual gushing fans, and probably little or none of it is true. "Lulz Security Hackers Offer Up Keen Internet Advice" gushes Melissa Bell at the Washington Post -- as if these Internet criminals are Anne Landers and just interesting in helping you become "aware" about how leaky your Facebook is -- snort.
Says this newspaper of record in our nation's capital (and you start to understand how empires like Rome fall"
"Laugh with them, or despise them, either way, they are, at the least, making a valid public service announcement: the web is an insecure space. Act accordingly."
So memes on parade -- malicious hacking of this sort is actually *good*. It actually *teaches* you something. Why you *learn things* about yourself and cease to *take yourself seriously*. It's actually a *public service*. Say it with me now, *it's actually a public service that sites from Sony to the CIA are taken down and millions of dollars are spent in staff time trying to clean up the messes.
Chief among the fan-fics is what they call in Russian the "tandem" -- the myth that the duopoly of power, Putin and Medvedev, are involved in some epic struggle against each other.
Hence, LulzSec is fighting Anonymous, from whence it sprang, so the story goes. No, wait, LulzSec is *not* attacking Anon. Repeat, *not* attacking! (So TechCrunch dutifully repeats it.) You so stupid! You believe what you read on the Internets!
Hello, Internets! says the snarky world-weary voice -- yeah, 15 years of boy in 42 years of man.
This is why I write in the TC comments:
When Al Qaeda sends tapes of beheadings to your editorial offices, do you just run it "as is," or do you try to supply a little more objective analysis? Oh, I guess you never get Al Qaeda tapes at your office. Well, I'm all for reporting on terrorism, I think you just have to be a little less dewey-eyed about it. And if Hamas and Fatah are telling you this week that they're reconciling, but then seeming to fight again next week? You look over their shoulders to what they are both in fact doing together, which is attacking Israel. You know, that sort of thing.
The intonations and patter are exactly the same as they have always been, in SL where they were prototyped, and other games and worlds. The rap goes like this:
o we know everything, you know nothing
o there's a we -- a lot of us -- and there is only one or a few of you
o we are doing this because we enjoy watching you suffer (zloradost', Schadenfreude -- laughing and enjoying others' misfortunes and suffering.)
o you take the Internets too seriously if you are shrieking or crying helplessly in shock or anger now
o we are actually doing you a favour because we are finding out the weak spots in your web site or network security system -- boy are you stupid for putting it all on that 123456 password or making it your dog's name
o we will go on doing this and you can't stop us
Etc. With a few variations -- "oh, and we are fighting the evil Syrian government, too."
Their shtick is banal enough -- it's quintessential, classic banality of evil. Nihilism and a vicious sadism with a cold cynicism, wrapped in a Big Brother sandwhich of explaining that this is all good for you (you know, that they found those security flaws you should have patched up.)
But what gets worse -- more creepy, really -- is how people who should know better start to get all epic and epochal about it --here's a very typical one:
I just hope people/the hacked companies can learn from them and look beyond their evil shenanigans.
OR like Fred Wilson. Like, "this is the wave of the Internet, this is the future, this is what it's all about, embrace the inevitable" -- blah blah. Look at the TechMeme topics! And so on. Common criminality, mundane vandalism, school-boy cynicism and the tearing off of wings from flies -- and we're supposed to celebrate it as the big tech disrupt. Yawn. I called him out on it, as I often do, but of course he doesn't see it that way:
Me: The minute you put up the Lulz Anonops people as some kind of lovely revolutionary force, Fred, you sure lost me.
They are destructive thugs. " You say the Internet is "not controlled by anybody". Well, ask PBS when their patch of the Internet is controlled by these Bolshevik thugs just because they don't like *a critical show PBS did on Anonymous and WikiLeaks". Yeah, some freedom, that."
Fred: "i am not saying they are "lovely"
there was no statement that these things are good or bad
just that they are
and we'll see more of them"
Is not the cynicism of our time this kind of mannered deconstruction of reality?
So why does Lulz pretend to "fight" Anon? Because the snake has to eat its tail, because there has to be a yin and yang, because it has to be entertaining.
But of course, you can always see the real nature of these people.
Mission accomplished -- they got the tech press in particular to publish the entire manifesto in full, in most publications.
And boy, did Parmy step right into this one, taking as an "unusually serious statement" what is in fact just another social hack. Make your best srs bsn face, guys!
Oh, and this just in -- we have met the enemy, and he is us:
"This is what you should be fearful of, not us releasing things publicly, but the fact that someone hasn’t released something publicly."
Bring me my barf bag.
So, this sort of thing, it's about the lulz, about seeing people get all butt-hurt? Or are these people in fact merely an instrument, a kind of crow-bar, used by the Kremlin, or Iran, or China?
"Matter-of-factly" says Andy Greenberg -- with that usual sneaking admiration. Yeah, that sort of describes that cocky, arrogant knowier-than-thou pose they affect -- and there are only a few of them, it doesn't take that many, you know.
Says, Andy -- again, that little brother impressed at big brother's antics -- "LulzSec responded with its typical taunt: “U mad bro?”
Oh, those wacky kids!
Then Andy remembers he's supposed to be writing for the Capitalist Tool!
"LulzSec hasn’t revealed much about exactly how it remains anonymous while pulling off such provocative hacks. Whatever proxy servers or VPNs it’s using to covering its tracks, hacking targets like the Senate and the CIA will certainly put those safeguards to the test." Gosh, hope so, guys!
Note the inverse Assangism in the Senate attack -- Assange said he deliberately attacked the US to confuse its systems and essentially force it open by bringing it to its knees -- it's clearly anarchic in the terrorist sense.
"We don't like the US government very much. Their boats are weak, their lulz are low, and their sites aren't very secure. In an attempt to help them fix their issues, we've decided to donate additional lulz in the form of owning them some more!"
Recently, a US military official said bluntly, about the war in cyberspace, "If you take down our grid, we put a missile down your smokestack."
What if they don't have smokestacks, I thought to myself, although I appreciate the sentiment.
The key to understanding these people is to see that far from being cutting edge and innovative and "helpful," as Keith Baker of The Limited (don't shop there!) seems to think it is, they are profoundly conservative and reactionary.
They don't want you to use the Internet freely, the way you'd like to.