Conservatives really have a hard-on for "infiltrating" Occupy Wall Street in an effort to discredit it. Now a computer expert has leaked thousands of emails from Occupy Wall Street organizers and told us he's identified members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous involved in the protest.
Tom Ryan is a New York-based computer security expert who runs a tiny New York-based outfit called Provide Security, which he boasts on his blog is a "team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber security professionals in the world." He's best known for using fake social media profiles of a pretty lady to compromise the security of high-level military and intelligence officials.
Ryan and his computer buddies have been waging a months-long campaign to infiltrate and "map the ties" of the hacktivist collective Anonymous, which has had a hand in organizing the protest.
Yesterday Ryan leaked what he said were more than 3,900 emails sent to an Occupy Wall Street mailing list called September17discuss. Now they're being used by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart to smear the movement. The emails show that Occupy Wall Street is a "conspiracy to 'destabalize' Global Markets," Breitbart says! (You can see the email archive here.)
In a phone interview, Ryan sounded similar notes of conspiracy. He claimed that members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous are secretly calling the shots in the Occupy Wall Street movement, provoking police violence and waging a concentrated effort to spread misinformation. He said that the supposedly peaceful organizers were secretly violent. And, because no right-wing smear is complete without a terrorism connection, Ryan adds in a blog post that he had seen Occupy Wall Street posts on the Al Qaeda recruitment forum Shamuk and Al-Jahad.
What's more, Ryan says he's identified the members of Anonymous behind Occupy Wall Street.
"I know which of them are Anonymous members, who aren't and what they do and their alter-egos," he said. Ryan said he identified members by quietly observing "patterns" in social media use among Anonymous members as they helped organize protests against San Francisco's BART earlier this year, and moved on to Occupy Wall Street.
While it's true that members of Anonymous have been involved in the protests—they can often be seen wearing the Guy Fawkes masks that are a trademark of the hacktivist collective—Ryan couldn't prove how the group was exercising control over the generally disorganized Occupy Wall Street protests.
This all may sound a bit familiar. Aaron Barr, the former CEO of computer security company HBGary Federal, also claimed to have unmasked Anonymous last year. He was completely wrong, and Anonymous paid him back by hacking into his websites and leaking his email inbox all over the internet—the embarrassing revelations therein cost Barr his job.
While Barr was owned by Anonymous, Ryan says he's ready for any Anonymous counterattack.
"I did things a lot different [than Barr]," he said. "I know what their tactics are going to be—they're going to go after my email. I never leave things on my email server."
Ryan also said that if Anonymous "pushed the envelope" by attacking him, he'd release their identities. "I'm going to keep my mouth shut because you never release it unless you have to. You always want to have the trump card."
[Photo of Occupy Wall Street protesters, top, via Getty Images. Photos of Breitbart and protester wearing Guy Fawkes mask via AP]