Monday, September 2, 2013

I Love You Anonymous

As most of you know, on August 26, 2013 I permanently retired from Anonymous and cyber-activism. I am writing this because it occurs to me that in my farewell tweets and statement, there is one thing that I failed to properly emphasize. I love you Anonymous, with all my heart and soul. And I am not just speaking of the idea, the meme of Anonymous. For despite all the rhetoric that Anonymous is just an idea, Anonymous is more than that. It is people. Wonderful, beautiful, brilliant - and courageous humans struggling to make the world a better place. Indeed, fighting non-violently to save the world.

Each one of you in Anonymous is precious to me beyond words. I have been touched to the very core of my soul by the multitude of your messages and tributes. Some of you I have known closely, most I have never met. But regardless we all share a common bond, this wonderful, magical - and historic movement called Anonymous. I love each of you, and that is forever. Those of you I knew personally I will never forget, you have burned yourselves into my very soul. All of you are treasures of immeasurable value to me.

In the past few days since I announced I was leaving Anonymous, not a moment has gone by that I have not been agonized by doubt and regret at my decision. There are a number of reasons for this, but it occurred to me that one of the biggest is my fear for all of you. You face relentless and evil enemies who are not only destroying our world, but who would not hesitate to destroy any of you. And I find that I am terrified to leave you alone against such adversaries.

And so I wanted you all to know how I feel about you. I want you to know that while I must completely remove myself from your midst, I shall always and forever be with you in spirit. I will be right here behind the curtain, watching. I will wince when one of you falls, I will weep when any of you are taken by the enemy. I will pray for you every single day. Always remember...

"Courage is not a lack of fear, courage is fear that has said it's prayers."

Be strong. Never doubt either the righteousness of your cause, nor the ultimate power of Anonymous to save our world from oblivion. And never, ever be afraid to be a hero. Not only can a single individual change the course of human history, in fact it is the only thing that ever has.

I leave you with a song, one that expresses in some strange way what I am feeling as I say good bye to you - Anonymous.

"When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me...

...These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along"

~~ Evanescence

Farewell Statement Of Commander X - READ HERE

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Anonymous Does NOT Need "Fixing"

By Commander X

     Recently, there has been much discussion about trying to "fix" a "broken" Anonymous. I myself have had conversations with a couple of individuals that I highly respect in which they communicated their ideas on creating a "better" Anonymous. While I have a deep and abiding appreciation for these individuals, their intellect and honor - I have to respectfully and firmly disagree that there is anything wrong with Anonymous or any way to improve it.
     The first idea I hear often is that Anonymous and it's various actions have too much collateral damage. One example given often is the dumping of the personal data of individuals not directly involved with the target of a given operation. One has to understand two things to make sense out of why these dumps are not only warranted, but desired. First, Anonymous has a strong foundation upon the Black Hat philosophy in general and in particular the AntiSec ideals. This philosophy can best be summed up with one sentence:

If I touch my fingers to MY keyboard and YOUR computer screws
up, that's YOUR fault NOT mine - and far from being a criminal I just did you a favor.

     How does this relate to the personal data dumps?  The dumps are designed to be shocking, and to inform the users that their data was not safe. They also serve the purpose of forcing owners to secure their web sites, and as an added benefit may encourage a few other un-effected site admins to do the same - thus preventing this tragedy happening to others. There is this pervasive myth that you can never fully secure a site, that an intrepid enough hacker will always find a way. This is utter bullshit. It is easy, simple - and inexpensive to provide virtually bullet proof security for any server or network that all but a handful of elite hackers (who have bigger fish to fry anyway) can never penetrate. The sad fact is though that 90% of all the computers on the internet have poor or nonexistent security. And left to their own devices, the admins of these servers and networks would leave it that way whilst truly evil people like the Russian mob or the Chinese hacker gangs would prey on the end users. And they wouldn't bother to inform the "victims" about it like Anonymous does.
     The other activity of Anonymous that gets a good deal of criticism is the infamous DdoS. It is called both wrong, as well as ineffective. It is said to be "wrong" because as a group that stands for freedom of speech, we should not be silencing others. This statement belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the primary purpose of a DdoS attack, which is not to silence speech (at least in most cases, murderous dictators and tyrants are the exception to this) but to disrupt the business of the target site and organization, and in the process bring media attention to the cause being protested. Just as the people who took up seats at the Wollworths lunch counter in Selma, Alabama in the 50's - the goal is to disrupt as a form of protest and get a message into the main stream media. The one glaring exception, hinted at above - are the Freedom Ops against tyrants. In those cases the goal is disruption, shutting down their message, emboldening the protesters on the ground - and psychological/information warfare against the government involved.
     As for being ineffective, those who make this claim must assume that those of us involved in Anonymous are idiots - for if it were ineffective to launch these sorts of attacks why would we continue to do it?  The fact is we DdoS because it is incredibly effective at all of the things mentioned above. And these attacks also have consequences that radiate far beyond the action. Like a pebble thrown into a calm lake, these consequences can only be seen in hindsight. Let us as an example examine the consequences, both immediate and historic - of one of the most famous of DdoS protests ever: the attacks on MasterCard, VISA - and PayPal in defense of WikiLeaks in December 2010. Many of our critics (both internal and external) point to these attacks as evidence that DdoS is futile.
     For certain, these were some of the largest and most effective online protests in history. They garnered massive media attention to the unjust mistreatment of WikiLeaks by these corporations. They disrupted business as usual for the targeted companies and cost them many millions of dollars, especially in lost revenue. But what of the after-effects?  First and foremost they helped to galvanize Anonymous, bringing massive amounts of new people into the movement and emboldening those that were already a part of the idea called Anonymous. It caused a huge global outpouring of support for Wikileaks, which in turn led to massive donations to their legal defense fund. These funds allowed Wikileaks to successfully sue these companies in a court in Iceland, which finally led to a judgment against these corporations and the resumption of the ability of people to donate using their bank cards. DdoS works, if it is organized properly and executed strategically it works amazingly well. For that reason we would be fools in Anonymous to set aside this tactic.
     Finally, many of these pundits and Anons who want to make a better Anonymous put forth the same sorts of solutions. One I heard was a sort of High Council of Anonymous. Another was better centralization of IRC servers. Yet another was a sort of code of conduct and ethics that would be created by consensus (good luck with that last one, with over 100,000 full-time participants in the movement globally - getting any sort of consensus on something so complex will be interesting to say the least). In my opinion, however intuitively correct these ideas may sound - they would destroy Anonymous. A core group would reject them utterly, and those who adopted them would splinter off into shism. It would fracture and weaken the movement, pitting one group against another when we should be uniting against our common enemies.
     But the bottom line, as I have explained above - is that these dubious improvements in Anonymous simply are not necessary. We are more powerful and effective than ever, and getting more so by the day. Like all good super-heroes we do have our dark and creepy side, hell just look at Batman. But that sinister and intimidating aspect of Anonymous isn't a liability, quite the opposite - it is our great strength. Books have been and are being penned as I write this on how and why Anonymous became the most powerful movement for change, freedom and justice in human history. But the bottom line is that whatever we did to get there, we should just keep on doing it. Some things can't be made better, Anonymous is one of them.