The announcement comes three weeks after Barr became the target of a coordinated attack by members of the online mischief making group Anonymous, which hacked into HBGary Federal’s computer network and published tens of thousands of company e-mail messages on the Internet. HBGary did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comments on Barr’s resignation.
In an interview with Threatpost, Barr said that he is stepping down to allow himself and the company he ran to move on in the wake of the high profile hack.
“I need to focus on taking care of my family and rebuilding my reputation,” Barr said in a phone interview. “It’s been a challenge to do that and run a company. And, given that I’ve been the focus of much of bad press, I hope that, by leaving, HBGary and HBGary Federal can get away from some of that. I’m confident they’ll be able to weather this storm.”
Good luck with that. For a nice, lucid explanation of what happened, along with numerous informative links, please refer to Sima’s recent post, Opening the Hive.
Here’s a quick and dirty summary of what Barr did to invite the attentions of Anonymous:
Barr had found himself at the center of a scandal that began when he told the Financial Times he planned to reveal the names of some “leaders” of the hacker group Anonymous. Anonymous responded by hacking HBGary Federal’s site, stealing 71,000 emails from the company and its sister firm HBGary, and defacing Barr’s Twitter account.
But the worst was yet to come. Anonymous posted HBGary’s emails in a searchable format, and the ensuing press scrum exposed a darker side to HBGary Federal’s business that offered a variety of dirty tricks on behalf of clients. In a proposal intended for Bank of America and written on behalf of a law firm referred to the bank by the U.S. Department of Justice, Barr suggested borderline illegal tactics that aimed at responding to a potential release of the bank’s documents by WikiLeaks. Those methods included cyberattacks, misinformation, forged documents, pressuring donors and even blackmailing WikiLeaks supporter and Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald. In another deal, HBGary suggested similarly a shady response to the Chamber of Commerce in its campaign against the Chamber’s political opponents including non-profit organizations and unions.
Another corporate buffoon bites the dust. Good riddance. Of course there are probably plenty of others like him still employed by HB Gary Federal.
We’ve been following the Wikileaks saga here at Sky Dancing, and at the end of January/beginning of February, an interesting twist appeared in the story. As you might know, a ‘hacktivist’ group called Anonymous brought down commercial servers and did various other things on the ‘net in support of Wikileaks back when the story about Assange’s alleged rapes surfaced late last year. This was in response to giants like Visa and Mastercard refusing to process donations to Wikileaks. The damage Anonymous did was real, but fleeting and group sunk momentarily back into the dark regions of the ‘net.
Aaron Barr*, the CEO of a company called HBGary Federal (an offshoot of cyber security firm HBGary) had his company develop a plan to bring down Wikileaks, partly by leaning on its big name supporters such as Glenn Greenwald.
Barr’s company developed this plan after pitching another plan to the US Chamber of Commerce which was meant to provide cyber spying, data collection and other services to the Chamber. And they came up with a proposal for the US Air Force (in response to a call for submissions) to create software allowing massive astroturfing via ‘persona management software’.
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