HBGary CEO Aaron Barr resigns amid ‘Anonymous’ scandal

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 12:45 EDT
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The chief executive at data security firm HBGary Federal has resigned his job following a high-profile hack staged by online protest group “Anonymous.”

Aaron Barr, the embattled CEO, made the disclosure yesterday speaking to ThreatPost, an online security blog.

“I need to focus on taking care of my family and rebuilding my reputation,” he reportedly said. “It’s been a challenge to do that and run a company. And, given that I’ve been the focus of much of the 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.”

The website of Washington DC-based HBGary Federal was hijacked earlier this month, along with Barr’s Twitter account. The company’s website was defaced with a message that read, “This domain seized by Anonymous under section #14 of the rules of the Internet.”

“Your recent claims of ‘infiltrating’ Anonymous amuse us, and so do your attempts at using Anonymous as a means to garner press attention for yourself,” the messaged continued. “How’s this for attention?”

He went on to complain that even at home, hackers were trying to break into his personal router, leaving him no choice but to drop offline entirely.

Barr later told the Financial Times that he’d identified the “core leaders” of the group and had information that could lead to their arrest. He even claimed to have infiltrated “Anonymous” to demonstrate social media security risks.

In addition to hacking the company’s website and Twitter account, “Anonymous” gained access to more than 44,000 company e-mails, which were released to the public in a 4.71 gigabyte Torrent file. The group also gained access to the report that was allegedly going to be sold to the FBI and posted it online (PDF).

“Anonymous” also claimed that most of the information he gathered was either publicly available or inaccurate.

“The lack of quality in Aaron Barr’s undertaken research is worth noting,” the group said in a statement. “Aaron Barr missed a great deal of information that has been available online, and in fact failed to identify some of those whose identities were never intended to be hidden. People such as DailyKos’ diarist blogger Barrett Brown, and the administrator of anonnews.org, joepie91, whose identities could have been found in under a minute with a simple Google search.”

“Anonymous does not have leaders,” the statement added. “We are not a group, we are not an organization. We are just an idea. What we have done today will appear harsh. It is harsh. We will respond to those who seek to threaten us. We understand that our participants have been concerned about recent FBI raids and companies such as HBGary Federal lurking and logging our chats, so we’ve given all of Anonymous a message: we will fight back.”

Burr reportedly talked to members of “Anonymous” in an IRC chatroom, claiming he never intended to sell the information he gathered to the FBI.

“Ok I am going to say this one more time,” he told the room. “I did this for research. The FBI called me because of my research. The email you are referring to about selling data was about a model built on this type of research. It was not to sell specifically this data. I was going to use it to describe the process of how social media exploitation works.”

Barr’s emails would later reveal the firm was working on a plan to attack and discredit progressive critics of the US Chamber of Commerce, and had worked on ideas to take down secrets outlet WikiLeaks on behalf of Bank of America. The Chamber denies knowing about their proposals.

A collection of congressional Democrats said Tuesday that the company’s actions warranted a federal investigation. House Republicans, however, were seen as unlikely to be responsive to such a request.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    He knows how serious this is.

    This is Watergate level stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Of course Republicans would be unresponsive to investigating a crime of the highest order. They are complicit.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS
  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    Complicit? They did it!

    This is a far right-wing security firm with massive GOP ties.

    The last thing the GOP wants is more of their dirt from the Bush years to be leaked & there is a mountainous treasure trove of it, this is why they wanted to discredit Wikileaks.

  • mick

    “House Dems Call for Probe Into U.S. Chamber of Commerce Plot to Discredit Perceived Enemies”

    A group of House Democrats is calling on Republican leaders to investigate a prominent Washington law firm and three federal technology contractors, who have been shown in hacked e-mails discussing a “disinformation campaign” against foes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    In a letter to be released Tuesday, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and more than a dozen other lawmakers wrote that the e-mails appear “to reveal a conspiracy to use subversive techniques to target Chamber critics,” including “possible illegal actions against citizens engaged in free speech.”

    The lawmakers say it is “deeply troubling” that “tactics developed for use against terrorists may have been unleashed against American citizens.”


  • Richard

    I love it when right-wing conservatives get taken down a peg. Republican investigating republicans….. that’ll never happen.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    All your base belong to (Anonymo)us.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    That’s the House, so its probably just political theater unfortunately, right?

    Can Senate Dems call for an investigation?

    Will the DOJ take it up? (doubtful)

  • mick

    “Will the DOJ take it up? (doubtful)” not “doubtful” ,you can bank on no DOJ investigation let alone indictment !

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    What’s amazing is that it’s “theater” when our Government demands an investigation into the violation of rights of citizens.. and it’s ignored by the “majority” of our Government.

    When did the Government illegally spying on and extorting/blackmailing the public become acceptable? .. Oh, right.. when the right-wing jammed through the Patriot Act right after Bush and Cheney let America get attacked by 15 Saudis.

  • I. M. Agoste

    Funny how they always suddenly discover they’ve got family to tend and use that as an excuse to beat feet out of the public’s eye.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q7G2NHLD62L3CDU7VHFZ4QPVQM Unknown

    I have 10 years of experience in compuer and network administation and the only thing I can tell you if there is no such thing as computer security. If someone wants in bad enough they will and can get in. The only way we could get any type of security would be to rewrite/replace the entire TCP/IP UDP framework of the internet.

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    So ,what you’re saying is,’if the Anti-Christ puts a chip in us that has 666 on it somebody,say,Jesus ,can hack in and change the #” . ENDTIME PROPHETS ain’t gonna like this news.

  • Bambic

    Typo: first word, twelfth paragraph—an easy mistake to make considering his first name.

  • Anonymous

    **Anonymous floats my boat AND my dinghy. ;)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

    This just makes me feel all warm ‘n fuzzy. Thanks,Anonymous. Keep up the good work. It almost makes me think that Democracy is still alive,somehow.

  • Anonymous

    Very, very, clever.
    thank you H.P.

  • Rush Goofbaugh

    Congratulations Anonymous… the check is in the mail… Worth every penny.

  • Rush Goofbaugh

    and somehow it is… just not the way we would like it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OHHOXLD7ND5S2JBAFBIVV6LM3A Dipp Stick

    Gov. Walker you are next

  • http://wwwhomes.uni-bielefeld.de/achim/gol.html Game of Life

    I love Anonymous.

  • Robert Shaftoe

    (in the voice of Nelson from the Simpsons): Ha Ha!

  • http://wwwhomes.uni-bielefeld.de/achim/gol.html Game of Life

    They all wrote books bragging about their war crimes.

    Our judicial system was broken when Pelosi and President Obama refused to prosecute war criminals.

  • irrumabo

    epic winz!

  • Anonymous

    I know. They are despicable and are good for only lying and stealing.

  • Anonymous

    The real reason this guy is out is no one takes this so-called security firm seriously anymore. They are a joke in the security community.
    This dumb-ass used simple six character passwords, and the same password on multiple accounts. Used poor web design to secure the company’s web CMS that got easily hacked. He is no security expert, he is an example of how not to do security.
    His only real claim to fame is being a hacker asshole. A malicious hacker, bent on using illegal hacking tools to steal and cheat. He should be in prison for his crimes.

  • Anonymous

    It’s getting to the point where anyone wearing a suit is suspect.

    Lies, misdeeds ,corruption, and fraud…. coupled with heartless, souless self entitlement.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    It was broken long before that, check out the Iran arms for hostages, high treason.

    Its all about getting elected, unfortunately.

    The GOP has laid the groundwork to make the DNC dance to their tune.

    But, the GOP is regularly crossing lines at an increasing rate.

    Politics is a dance, for which I have few answers for.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    I agree, the DOJ is very politically sensitive.

    Still a thousand times better than the GOP’S DOJ under Gonzales.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    Its not become acceptable, its just not covered by our fourth estate anymore, the MSM.

    You can thank GOP “Free Market” deregulation for that.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    He knows he’s in “legal jeopardy”.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS


    This is nothing more than the GOP using secret right-wing companies to do their dirty work.

    Its just the tip of the iceberg.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    A suit, really?

    Get real.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    True, but he opened-up the GOP’s Pandora’s box.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    Yes, please throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Calm down & maybe buy a used textbook on Political Science.

    There is a long history of this stuff.

  • Guest

    Typical republicon sleaze bag machinations. Maybe if Gerard Ford hadn’t pardoned that treasonous crook Nixon, this would not be permissible today. Now it’s simply the way they do “business” and crime pays in multiples for them. No consequences so why stop?
    (Recently released archived tapes reveal that Nixon went directly to the North Vietnamese and told them not to accept LBJ’s Peace Agreement. He would give them a much better deal.)

  • foxdup

    I am quite sure my internet network has been a target of HBGary. http://headonradionetwork.com
    Via SYN packet attacks that had the word TREASON in the log entries. Thankfully we appear to have plugged the holes they used.

  • Gnat K. Coal

    OH, HE’S the VICTIM here… RIGHT.

  • Anonymous

    These fuckers don’t even care they are immoral and unethical. They are only worried about their reputation, and other’s perceptions…but never correcting their wrongs and their way of thinking.