Cyberwar (2016) s01e01 Episode Script

Who is Anonymous

1 They hacked corporations.
None of these targets were particularly difficult to hack.
A 3-year-old could do it.
They challenged governments.
Any method of disruption at any cost, any means necessary.
They wanted to change the world.
But after a series of arrests and an informant on the inside I was arrested when I was 16 years old.
Police broke down the front door, handcuffed me in my bed.
who is Anonymous now? I'm calling Jeremy Hammond, a legendary Anonymous hacker.
Hammond is serving a 10-year prison sentence for hacking a private intelligence firm.
Jeremy, how you doing? It's Ben.
You can't finish this call? You gotta go? Okay, are you gonna call back? Okay, alright.
Thanks, man.
Good luck.
Well, that was bullshit.
Greetings, citizens of the world.
Hello, Congress of the United States.
Hello, leaders of Scientology.
Anonymous.
It's a brand, a meme, and a movement.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.
For almost a decade they've hacked into corporations, stolen private information, and shut down websites.
Their signature is instantly recognizable, the Guy Fawkes mask from the movie V For Vendetta, which was based on the graphic novel series of the same name.
The real Guy Fawkes was executed in 1606 for conspiring to kill the king and blow up the British Parliament.
I went to talk with Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who wrote the definitive book on Anonymous.
she's also a consultant on this show.
They're ghostly, they're spectral, they're mysterious, they're controversial, they're radical.
It's a protest movement.
It's not about long-term structural change.
It's about getting people excited for activism, which is incredibly important, and then I think their most kind of constructive contribution has to do with the leaking of information, whistleblowing.
But that's not how Anonymous started out.
Back in the early 2000s, a group of trolls banded together on a web forum called 4Chan, taking their name from the default ID many used to post: Anonymous.
Anonymous was never meant to become an activist phenomena.
Today it's identified with politics, with activism, but its roots are in the offensive, sometimes terrifying, sometimes humourous world of internet trolling.
Trolling is the time-honoured practice of online baiting.
And in 2008, Anonymous found an easy target.
It started with a video featuring the world's most famous Scientologist, a very enthusiastic Tom Cruise.
The Church of Scientology was trying to get this video, apparently leaked by a church insider, off the internet.
And the Church of Scientology threatened all sorts of publishers like Gawker with lawsuits if they didn't take down the video.
And it was at this moment that Anonymous decides to target the Church of Scientology with one of these trolling campaigns.
And in this case, it was I like to refer to it as the Mothership Trolling Campaign that Anonymous engaged in.
They prank-called a Scientology Dianetics hotline.
They sent hundreds of pizzas to churches across North America.
They sent black faxes to all the churches.
Then, Anonymous hit Scientology websites with what's called a Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS.
A DDoS attack floods a website with so much traffic that it crashes.
When the attack stops, the site can come back up without any permanent damage.
And it was during the course of that campaign that they also then started to debate whether they should kind of earnestly protest the Church of Scientology not for the sake of trolling, but for the kind of sake of, you know, activism.
For the first time, Anonymous was considering real political action.
And then came a fateful step.
The collective called for a worldwide street protest against Scientology, and thousands actually showed up.
Anonymous' next big op was just as political.
It morphed from an anti-copyright movement into a massive campaign to defend WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
In November 2010, WikiLeaks began publishing a trove of leaked diplomatic cables, classified dispatches between American embassies and the State Department.
Visa, MasterCard and PayPal stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.
Anonymous struck back with what they called Op Payback.
That operation was, and I still think is, the largest protest DDoS that the internet has ever seen.
You had over 7,000 people that showed up on the chat channel where activity was organized.
It was monumental DDoS.
Multi-day against Visa, PayPal, MasterCard.
Op Payback put Anonymous on the world stage, and put them on the FBI's radar.
As the bureau's top official in cyber crime, Shawn Henry watched Anonymous rise.
He retired in 2012.
What was it like when you first encountered Anonymous? Anonymous, I mean, just the very name, right? Who is it that we're trying to investigate? Where do they reside? Who do they associate with? This is a group that's been widely dispersed around the country, and has been pretty good about keeping themselves off the grid as individuals.
What about what they actually do? 'Cause a lot of it's just like a DDoS attack.
Is that really all that bad? We're seeing a new form of social protest, and that is people taking advantage of their technical skills to object in a loud sort of way to social and political practices that they deem objectionable.
I mean, a lot of that activity is illegal under our existing law, and there are authorized ways that people can protest.
Using the network to disrupt organizations or to breach data and to steal it is not one of those ways.
By 2011, Anonymous had gone from a fringe group of trolls to a global political force.
The collective attacked the websites of repressive governments to support the Arab Spring, took to the streets as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and hacked corporations and law enforcement along the way.
But to understand who Anonymous is now, I had to meet some of them in person.
Anonymous is basically a network of online trolls that became a global force to be reckoned with.
They usually organize on a network of online chat channels called IRC using aliases.
But that doesn't mean they never meet in person.
And Chaos Communication Camp, a hacker gathering that only happens once every 4 years, turned out to be a bit of a reunion party.
Some of the people I met have never been interviewed on camera before.
My name is Mercedes "N0" Haefer, and I have two State National Bowling Championships.
I'm Keith.
I'm the prettiest PayPal 14 defendant.
And I'm Panda, and I'm the King of Sweden.
N0, Keth and Anon Panda took part in Anonymous' legendary attack against PayPal, Visa and MasterCard in support of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
I mean, I don't like him as a person, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have rights, and that doesn't mean I won't fight for his rights.
Because if he doesn't have rights, then I don't have rights.
Everybody has them, or they're just privileges.
So if I want to be able to publish secret government data that everyone should know, then I also have to defend Assange.
But some within Anonymous weren't as interested in politics as they were in "lulz", internet slang for hilarity, and LulzSec was a small breakaway group of Anonymous members who just wanted some lulz at the system's expense.
Quite frankly, hackers get bored, and there's nothing there's nothing more dangerous than a bored hacker, because they'll make themselves not bored very ing quickly.
Darren Martyn took part in both Anonymous and LulzSec, going by the name pwnsauce.
"Pwning" something can mean that you've hacked it completely.
When it all really started kicking off, the LulzSec thing was just when I was turning 19.
So pretty much the same as most of the people involved.
We were all kids basically.
So we just kinda split off and did our own thing.
And then well, you know, it just kinda took on a life of its own.
Who were some of LulzSec's targets, and why'd you guys decide on them? tflow was a respected Anonymous member and a talented hacker.
He was also part of LulzSec, all at the age of 16.
In the summer of 2011, LulzSec went on a hacking spree.
They DDoSed the websites of the CIA and the Senate, hacked an FBI association called InfraGard, and published a fake story on PBS NewsHour's site.
They also redirected the UK newspaper The Sun to a fake obituary for its owner.
None of these targets were particularly difficult to hack.
A 3-year-old could do it.
I mean, senate.
gov was one of the simplest hacks ever pulled off.
It was like the '90s called; it wants its ing security vulnerabilities back.
Well, it just seems like justice, like you said.
If they're hacking, then why not let us hack them? Both LulzSec and Anonymous needed servers to organize online.
And since corporate servers would just shut them down or turn them over to the police, the collective built its own network.
That's where Chris Weatherhead came in.
He helped establish AnonOps, the collective's main network of chatrooms.
So you ran the servers that Anonymous used for their operations? Yes, so I ran yeah, servers that they used for a few of their operations.
Probably most notably the ones relating to Operation Payback, the Operation Avenge Assange, stuff in the Arab Spring like the Operation Tunisia, helping the Tunisian people, Operation Egypt, helping people get back online when Mubarak cut them off.
Did you develop pretty close friendships with certain people? None of us knew who anyone else really was.
So there's sort of a crossover between friendship and trust.
You reach a point where you're implicitly trusting people with information, and therefore you are essentially befriending them because you only trust your friends.
Trust was important, since all of this was illegal and the heat was on.
In 2011, law enforcement around the world located and arrested several members of LulzSec and Anonymous, laying dozens of charges for their high-profile hacks.
So when the police turned up at my house, it was a highly unpleasant experience.
They kind of gave it the whole TV treatment, I guess you could call it.
They sent in the whole, you know lots of people shouting really loudly with, you know, firearms and shit.
I guess they were afraid that laptops were wired to explode or some crazy shit like that.
Or that, you know, I'd have a delete button which would make all of the evidence disappear or something.
Police broke down the front door, came in, arrested me in my bed, handcuffed me in my bed.
They all seemed so surprised that my computer and everything around it was off.
Of course it's off! It's 7:00 in the f morning! What would you expect? And me personally, I was just arrested because 'Cause you're so pretty! It's 'cause you're so pretty.
N0 and Keth were arrested, but narrowly avoided doing major time.
tflow was too young to go to prison, pwnsauce got off with a fine, and Chris spent 4-and-a-half months behind bars.
But there were much harsher sentences to come.
Anonymous was on a roll.
That is, until a series of arrests in 2011 and 2012.
But for members of the collective, there was more shocking news to come; many of these arrests were made possible by an informant.
Hector Xavier Monsegur, otherwise known as Sabu, was a vocal member of Anonymous and LulzSec.
Many considered him a friend.
You met Sabu.
What was that like, and what was he like? Sabu is such an interesting character.
He was really involved in Anonymous.
He was very charismatic.
His personality online was larger than life.
It was why he was so effective as an informant.
Some of his peers and colleagues, you know, described him as "legend".
Why do you think he ratted out his friends and his peers? Sabu was put in a difficult situation.
When the FBI showed up at his house, they basically said, "Look, work for us or we will take your foster kids away from you, and away from your family entirely.
" And he took the deal that was given to him, and started almost immediately to work for the FBI.
Sabu not only led the FBI to LulzSec, but to one of Anonymous' most brilliant hackers, a 27-year-old named Jeremy Hammond.
Hammond was the real deal: a radical anarchist as active in the streets as he was online; a hacktivist way before Anonymous was even a thing.
And we believe that the internet is a powerful new medium where just a handful of people in small groups, just by shifting data around in the right directions, can make big changes and big damage.
Any method of disruption at any cost, any means necessary.
Hammond helped launch Op AntiSec, which targeted police departments and what he calls the national security complex.
Sabu was also a major player in AntiSec, all while working for the FBI.
With the feds watching his every move, Sabu introduced Hammond to a hacker who had found a way into Stratfor, a massive global intelligence firm.
Hammond then hacked Stratfor, stealing thousands of credit card numbers and millions of emails.
He was arrested for the hack, and is now serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison.
Dial 5 now.
Yo, what's going on? You okay? So just I'll get right to it.
Why'd you hack Stratfor? Why don't you tell me about Sabu.
What was his role in all this? How'd that make you feel? I asked Sabu to tell his side of the story, but he declined to talk to me on the record.
After Hammond hacked Stratfor, he leaked the company's emails to WikiLeaks.
The emails revealed Stratfor had monitored activists worldwide.
WikiLeaks begins its release of 5,000 emails documenting the private lives and private lies of private spies.
But one question still remains: This whole time, the FBI had an informant, so why did it let Stratfor get hacked? The FBI could've done something about that, they could've prevented all this damage from happening.
But no, they were more interested in entrapping people, and you know, ensnaring people in doing things.
While they could've stopped things and done crime prevention, instead they thought, " it, we're gonna entrap everyone.
" I mean, that they completely burned Stratfor.
And you know, the FBI need to have a good look at themselves and go, you know, "What ing moral high horse do we have to stand on when we're using other people as bait?" After the high-profile arrests of some of its core members, Anonymous was at a crossroads.
But that made some of its hackers more determined than ever.
Sabu's betrayal broke trust within Anonymous.
Anyone can be an informant.
And security expert Robert Hansen believes the group has been infiltrated.
I know that there are certain governments who have a keen interest at not only infiltrating them, but flipping people inside Anonymous and turning them against one another.
And you're saying that signals intelligence agencies around the world will try to compromise Anonymous? Yes.
Which ones in particular? At this point, most of them.
Yeah, I've actually sat in meetings where people have actively talked about doing that.
And not as a "we could", as in "we are".
So Anonymous is essentially as clean as a public swimming pool? I don't know if I'd put it that way.
But what I do know is that it would be too dangerous for a guy like me to ever consider being involved with at this point.
If I were apart of Anonymous right now, I would burn everything and walk away, and I would never look back.
But for some, walking away isn't an option.
Despite the risks, Anonymous DDoS actions and hacks continue across the globe.
What do you say to people that say Anonymous is flaming out? Why not? Bio could go to jail if his identity is revealed.
He took part in DDoS attacks on Canadian government websites, protesting an anti-terrorism bill known as C-51.
The legislation gives the government broader surveillance powers, sparking concerns about privacy abuse.
Are you gonna escalate your attacks on Canada? Are you gonna go after more stuff? As a terrorist? Right.
If you put your chances of going to jail in a percentage, what would it be? If you could go back and do it all again, would you? Would I have had those ideas? Probably.
Would I have gotten involved with Anonymous? Probably.
Would I have ended up running servers? Highly likely.
Therefore, would I still be in the situation I'm in now? Very likely.
How does this end personally for you? At its best, Anonymous has embarrassed those in power, taunting them, paralyzing them, and spilling their secrets online.
As much an idea as a collective, concerted campaigns by law enforcement could weaken and demoralize, but not destroy it.
And so Anonymous lives on.
Thanks a lot, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.
Take it easy.