Two interesting bits of news from the world of computer security:
Wired discusses the “Pwnie,” a product that highlights the increasingly modular and streamlined world of system penetration and hacking.
Built by a startup company called Pwnie Express, the Pwn Plug is pretty much the last thing you ever want to find on your network — unless you’ve hired somebody to put it there. It’s a tiny computer that comes preloaded with an arsenal of hacking tools. It can be quickly plugged into any computer network and then used to access it remotely from afar.
The other big news was the arrest of several alleged members of the hacker group “LulzSec.” Following a secret plea in August, one of the group’s members and possible leader began helping the FBI hunt for the rest of the group – leading to five arrests this week in the UK and US.
The actual effect of the arrests are probably minimal – the nature of these hacker groups is pretty decentralized, so taking out a group of them is probably akin to arresting a “cell” in a terrorist group – it makes headlines and might lessen the problem, but because of the insularity of the cells, doesn’t lead to a wholesale dismantling of the network.
What I think will be interesting to see is if this ends up creating distrust and infighting within the Anon/Lulz/etc. community – there were already suspicions that this guy might be an informant, so this may ratchet up the paranoia level within an already paranoid community. Infighting can often lead to a boon for law enforcement, as disgruntled members use the FBI as a weapon against distrusted colleagues.