Tag Archives: Aaron Swartz

Great Entrepreneurs Break the Law

Or at least bend the rules…  It has to do with the very nature of innovation; pushing the boundaries, trying new things, doing it different, living outside the box. But the tragic death of 26-year-old hactivist, Aron Swartz, have highlighted some very interesting perspectives on the relations between law and regulation on one hand, and innovation and entrepreneurship on the other. As it turns out, three of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time,  Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, start by innovating near the edge of the law.

“The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”

Mark Zuckerberg

swartz

And the fact is, if these titans of industry had faced the same sort of overly aggressive prosecution that the late Aaron Swartz did, they could have been threatened with being locked away and branded felons before ever starting AppleMicrosoft, or Facebook. They might have even faced a ban against their use of computers, rather than using them to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. All three are credited with creating some of the most successful businesses in the history of the Internet, but they also have something else in common: they got their start by doing something that probably would have been classified as “illegal” by the same authorities that threatened Aron Swartz with 35 years in prison and drove him to commit suicide.

In the aftermath of the Aron Swartz’ death, several online communities have joined a campaign that aims to reform the US computer law – known as the CFAA.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a driving force behind the campaign, and according to the EFF  the CFAA and other computer crime laws shouldn’t allow overzealous prosecutors to lock away the next Steve Jobs or Aaron Swartz for years, or even to threaten to do so in order to force them to plead guilty.

“In all of their names, it’s time we bring some proportionality back to computer crime laws, both in their scope and in the penalties they provide,” Trevor Timm at EFF.org writes on their website.

“The CFAA can (and should) reach serious computer intrusions that cause real damage, as should related laws criminalizing identity theft, stealing trade secrets, or engaging in massive fraud. But the law needs to recognize the difference between commercial criminals and those who are merely “testing the boundaries” or engaging in youthful indiscretions. Right now, it hands prosecutors the same sledgehammer regardless.”

EFF.org have also made some interesting comparement between the greatest IT entrepeneurs of our time – Steve JobsBill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

The conclusion is even more interesting: If they had been subjected to the same treatment as Aron Swartz, there would be no Apple, no Microsoft or no Facebook today.

FULL POST@Rational Arrogance

inmate_innovators_0

 

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Anonymous: Going For Gold(man)

The group of hacktivists Anonymous , who just a week ago hacked into the servers of St. Louis Federal Reserve, has issued an alert about an upcoming attack against the mighty Goldman Sachs. According to Anonymous’ Twitter account, the hacktivist group wants to shut down Goldman Sachs’ Facebook and Twitter pages on Valentine’s Day to express its disdain for the financial behemoth. Nearly 900.000 Twitter followers received on Thursday an invitation to join in the cyber attack.

“Please help us to destroy twitter and Facebook account of Goldman Sachs february 14  |http://opgm1402.tumblr.com

Anonymous

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Anonymous released several e-flyers in several languages from its various Twitter accounts. All the e-flyers say the attack will involve three steps: First, Anonymous is encouraging supporters to report the Goldman Sachs Facebook and Twitter accounts as spam. Then, the flyer provides a URL where users can fill out an abuse form on Twitter (you can do the same on Facebook), reporting Goldman Sachs for Twitter malfeasance. In the final step, Anonymous followers are asked to make “friendly” phone calls to Goldman Sachs’ offices in London, Paris or Dublin, depending on which flyer they saw.

anon gold“Operation Goldman Sachs” is being run through an official Tumblr page. “#OpGm” isn’t the first time that Anonymous targeted Goldman Sachs. In 2011, Anonymous published the private personal information of a number of Goldman employees, including CEO Lloyd BlankfeinCNN wrote at the time that a Twitter user named CabinCr3w tweeted out that he had “doxxed,” or released, personal info of Goldman’s CEO, including Blankenfein’s age, education, recent addresses and legal cases he had been involved anon 2in.

At the time, Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the leak, International Business Times reports.

You may, of cource, have whatever opinion you what about the hacker’s vandalism, but it’s a nice gesture to give the victims a warning in advance, don’t you think?….

More info On the FED Hack

Reports also surfaced recently that Anonymous had hacked into the US Federal Reserve.

In an interview with ABC News, ex-Anonymous member Greg Housh says the hack was a result of the lack of prosecution of “big bankers that caused a lot of the problems we’ve had over the last few years.”

anon 3Housh also says to expect more Anonymous attacks on governments in the future.

The hack into the Federal Reserve resulted in the leaking of personal information of more than 4,000 bankers.

ABC News says the Federal Reserve hack may have been a part of “Operation Last Resort,” which was started earlier this year after Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide over charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer.

Swartz, a hero and now a martyr to activists, faced as much as 35 years in prison if found guilty.

snon 4According to Insider Media Group, the planned “operation” is a reaction to a recent interview given by Huw Pill, a chief economist at Goldman. While talking to the Huffington Post, Pill suggested that France lower wages by approximately one-third in an effort to increase competition in the labor force.

The Operation Goldman Sachs Tumblr page is written in French, and might be an indicator that French hackers linked to Anonymous got the idea for the attack on Goldman from those comments.

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US Federal Reserve: Hacked, Tapped and Smacked

Last Sunday’s cyber attack on US Federal Reserve Bank of St.Louis appears to be a lot more serious than the St.Louis FED have told the media, the authorities  and  financial institutions they serve. According to ZDNet the hacktivist group Anonymous may have released important banking information that could be connected to Federal Reserve computers, including contact information and cell phone numbers for U.S. bank Presidents, Vice Presidents, COO’s Branch Managers, VP’s and more. The FBI has now opened a criminal investigation into  hacking incident.

“As an information security expert, its my official position that there was a blatant and irresponsible lack of tact and urgency in the response by the Federal Reserve to the individuals and institutions contained in this list. I’d go as far as to say they have irrevocably LIED to their constituents here.”

Security Expert

anonymous-fed-hack

According to the ZDNet report, the information security community is outraged at the Federal Reserve for its dismissive attitude and lack of transparency around Sunday’s emergency contact system hack. A Federal Reserve Spokesperson told reporters that Anonymous’ claim to the hack’s importance was “overstated,” but information security professionals that serve financial institutions says the exact opposite. Now they are angry with the Federal Reserve for downplaying the incident – very angry.

The hacktivist group Anonymous accessed  the US Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis‘ internal files and servers, by hacking the FED’s  emergency contact system,  ZDNet reports.

anon 0The emergency contact system (ECS) enables agencies to establish two-way communications channels with institutions during a crisis to exchange critical information; crises such as natural or man-made disasters; weather, fire, and so on, chemical biological events or threats, and events affecting the financial markets

One of the people who express his concern with the hacking incident is Veracode chief technology officer, Chris Wysopal, calling the hack “a spearphishing bonanza and the most valuable account dump by quality I have seen in a while.”

anon 1Another person expressing concern on the incident is Jon Waldman, a senior information security consultant whose firm specializes in serving small-to-medium sized financial institutions, explain his anger at The FED’s downplaying of the incident.

Here are some quotes by the security excerpts:

“The Federal Reserve is simply incorrect by saying there’s not account details on the list. I’ve seen that list and it is absolutely rife with account details. Usernames and hashed passwords are included with salts.”

“As an information security expert, its my official position that there was a blatant and irresponsible lack of tact and urgency in the response by the Federal Reserve to the individuals and institutions contained in this list. I’d go as far as to say they have irrevocably LIED to their constituents here.”

Hacking for…….Chris Dorner!?

ZDNet points out that the Anonymous previously hacked other US government websites, including the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. The report also claim that Anonymous new attack’s filename refers to Christopher Dorner, an ex-LAPD officer that is currently the target of a California state-wide manhunt for killing three people, but has been characterized by some Anons as “an avatar” of the man of conscience pushed to the point of desperate action due to the alleged corruption happening within the LAPD.

anon 2However, the latest government hacking incident may also be attributed to a group of Anonymous’ demand for a US computer crime reform law, as well as the group’s extended show-off in protest for the early demise of Reddit’s co-founder Aaron Swartz, a famous hacktivist who committed suicide during a rough investigation by the FBI into his activities.

I certainly hope that no one commits suicide as a result of this new FBI investigation, but I curious about the results. And also if the investigation will target the officials at St.Louis FED – or just the Anonymous…

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