After going to bat for the online hacker collective Anonymous over myriad controversial actions, Barrett Brown, a key figure within the group, has hung up his Guy Fawkes mask and three-piece suit.
Brown told security news site Threatpost that he was just “tired of the drama” and dismayed by the power struggles which have recently overtaken Anonymous. “You’ve got kids fighting for control of an IRC channel,” he told the site, alluding to a messy squabble last week which pitted Anon against Anon.
Upstart Anonymous member “Ryan” launched a coup against the group last week, yanking control of three AnonOps channels away from the normal operators and forming his own splinter group in the process. The cyber revolt compromised Anonymous user info and passwords, and, to add insult to injury, poked fun at the group with crudely drawn images published on the affected sites.
Days later, “Ryan” was apparently framed for hacking three websites under the operation of game developer Eidos Interactive. Square-Enix, the Japan-based publisher that owns Eidos, later confirmed that more than 25,000 email addresses and personal information provided in around 350 submitted job résumés were leaked in the attack.
For Brown, such antics are trivial. “I’m a researcher. I’m into revolutionary stuff,” he told Threatpost.
That “revolutionary stuff” is Brown’s new brainchild, Project PM – an organization of like-minded, forward thinking individuals (a former CIA directorate is said to be among its ranks) whose goals are a far cry from “doing it for the lulz”: better distribution of news, aiding impoverished African countries and other highbrow objectives based on leveraging information technology for the common good.
Brown’s stint with Anonymous saw him defending Bradley Manning, who was accused of “aiding the enemy” and more in relation to leaking top-secret documents to WikiLeaks, as well as maintain more of a spokesperson role in numerous other controversial undertakings.
Anonymous recently made waves (and countless new video game-playing enemies) last month after a DDoS attack it launched shut down public Sony sites and possibly bled over to the company’s online gaming platform, the PlayStation Network – leading to spotty service for gamers.
The group later renounced further cyber warfare against the corporation – a stance reiterated twice following the colossal security breach that compromised the personal information of approximately 100 million customers worldwide.
If Project PM ends up anywhere near as active (and provocative) as Anonymous, this won’t be the last time Barrett Brown’s name is mentioned. To paraphrase his ex-organization’s well-known motto: “Expect him.”