OpFerguson is the Anonymous operation which sprang into being over the last three days, in response to the Saturday police shooting of unarmed teen Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. So far Anonymous has taken down the City website for several hours over Sunday night, leaked the details of Police Chief Jon M. Belmar’s house (looks like it’s the one area in America you can still get a good deal on real estate), taken the emails of the City and Police Department down (they remain down), and brought international awareness to the ongoing tragedy of police brutality in the United States.
They have issued an updated video call to action a day after their first one:
Within the last hour they have also released a very interesting document showing that their attack against the site was more than a simple DDoS, Distributed Denial of Service attack, which simply floods a website with so many requests to open that it basically has a nervous breakdown and goes offline. The document indicates they have been poking around the website extensively, probing for details of the software and the hardware on which it is running, looking for open doors and weak points.
They found them.
We spoke with a member of the OpFerguson team via email, trying to get a sense of how this all came together so quickly and what actions Anonymous is responsible for and which ones it is not.
The Cryptosphere: Who came up with the idea for OpFerguson, and when?
OpFerguson: No comment. Who we are does not matter, we are all Anonymous.
When did the rest of you get involved, and how were you in contact?
Anonymous Operation Ferguson was launched while Mike Brown was still laying in a pool of blood in the streets of Ferguson [the body remained on the ground for four hours]. Within four hours of the shooting there were over a dozen Anons involved, and all the basic infrastructure of the Op was in place.
How did you come together and communicate? IRC? How many people are on the core team?
IRC is not really used much any more for planning, although we have provided a channel for social purposes. Most Anons who are active have shifted to Jabber with OTR as a means of communication. Secure E-Mail with PGP and “burn notes” are used as well. The core team of Op Ferguson is about a half dozen Anons, with many hundreds and perhaps even thousands of Anons joining in from the global collective.
Once you had the idea, how long did it take to get going?
How long to set up the Twitter account, website, etc?
Less time the it took to collect Mike Brown’s body. As I stated, all that was done while he lay in the streets. The Anonymous response to this tragedy was extremely swift – even by our standards.
Is the same team responsible for all of that, or did other people contribute different things without coordinating with you first?
As with most Anonymous Operations, the core team set up the basics. After the Op gets momentum – many others join in and lend their own unique contributions which we incorporate into the Op seamlessly.
What can you tell me about the mini-dox of the police chief on Pastebin?
It’s just our doxers flexing their muscles and getting warmed up. There will be much more info to follow.
Are the emails still actually down?
The E-Mail Bomb we launched last night filled all their inboxes with thousands of junk messages. These messages are considered “evidence” in a crime (E-Mail Bombing is illegal) so they must all be carefully collected and copied. In addition, real and possibly important E-Mail comes in during the Bomb and those must also be sifted out. The long and short of it is an E-Mail Bomb is a very effective and disruptive tactic that takes awhile to clean up after. That clean up is most likely why the City of Ferguson E-Mail remains offline.
And the phones?
I would say the phones are down because many, many people are attempting to call them. Not just Anons, but angry citizens, activists trying to be disruptive – and media trying to get interviews. It is most likely a combination of the above.
What kind of access did Anonymous get to the databases and email accounts?
The hacks of the Ferguson City servers are ongoing and I can’t comment on that right now. No comment other than to say it was our actions which have caused and continue to cause disruption to the front facing web site of the City of Ferguson.
How do you think the live protest is going?
So far so good, we would like to see more support from Occupy St. Louis and Anons/activists in Missouri – but that will happen as things unfold.
There are lots of rumours about who’s on the team and who isn’t.
No comment. We are not in the business of identifying Anons. We are Anonymous. Anonymous does not identify individual Anons, ever.
What are the future plans for OpFerguson? What are the immediate goals? What would complete success look like to you?
To do whatever it takes to defend the protesters on the ground going forward, and to get “Mike Brown’s Law” passed.
Where can people go to join in, and what kind of help are you looking for?
SINCERELY — Anonymous
Update to that:
EDITED NEXT MORNING TO ADD:
For those not familiar with Anon operations in the last few years, the stance above represents a return to first principles for Anonymous, which in many cases had devolved from an indistinguishable Hivemind offering the safety of Anonymity to operants to separate crews all claiming credit for different operations. Cabin Cr4w. LulzSec. And so on. You know their names because you read about their arrests in the newspaper. OpFerguson has gone back to basics and availed itself of the benefits of anonymity in the macro and microcosm, and will be harder for law enforcement to track down for that reason.
And also because their emails are still offline.