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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 

All aboard the Lulz boat.

The media, just in case you haven't noticed, is a strange beast. The people behind it get terribly excited about sexy, new things like "hacking", even if they have even only a very rudimentary knowledge of the subject; then they suddenly remember that the people behind it are mostly bedroom or basement dwelling virgins with greasy hair and bad teeth, qualities they share with a fair few bloggers (is this right? Ed.) and realise they could be next. Best then to spray around negative epithets in a similar fashion to someone who's just had their Facebook profile hijacked and their picture changed to goatse.

This Sun article is just such a glorious example. Even before Ryan Clearly had been charged with any offence his entire life story was gracing the pages of the Daily Mail and Sun, although quite where and how quickly they managed to discover that he had been suspended from school from disruptive behaviour at the age of 5 and had attempted at suicide at the age of 10 it's difficult to know. We're told that this geeky, nerdy oddball turned his sparsely decorated bedroom into the "centre of a global hacking movement", at the same time as which he was apparently attending an unnamed university even though his mother also said that he suffers from agoraphobia and hasn't left the house in four years.

Lulz Security, the group Clearly has been linked to, thought this a rather rum do. "If you don't kick, hit or throw some kind of sports-related object at least thirty-five times a week, you are a filthy recluse to The Sun", they tweeted, although as yet they haven't turned their sights on the paper, which is something of a shame. The group themselves are denying that Clearly had anything other than a extremely loose connection to them; they used his IRC server as one of their bases, and that was about as far as it went. Indeed, despite the briefings and claims that Clearly was a key member or even the only member, something which was always laughable, the charges brought against him tonight only back up LulzSec's denials, and the Met have not claimed, officially at least, that he was part of the group. Apart from controlling a botnet, he's accused of turning it on the websites of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and its British partner, as well as the Serious and Organised Crime's internet base, which was brought low on Monday. While LulzSec claimed responsibility for bringing it down, whether Clearly's (alleged) attack came after or was done in conjunction we simply don't yet know.

What is clear is that the media for the most part still doesn't know its arse from its elbow when it comes to anything even vaguely related to either internet subculture or online security. Hacking remains the catch-all term, even when Clearly hasn't been charged with any actual hacking, such as the recent security breaches which have befallen Sony or any other number of those targeted by LulzSec, most of which were achieved through relatively simple to pull off MySQL injections, or other vulnerablities. As LulzSec themselves tweeted, the DDoS attacks they've launched are "of course our least powerful and most abundant ammunition". Likewise, while LulzSec does seem to have emerged from Anonymous and the two, despite alleged ructions, are still working together, how far the links now go back to eBaum's World* is difficult to tell. True, the group's attitude and its effective mission statement are all based around the insouciant, uncaring, unforgiving nature of Anonymous, but this has now gone far beyond the targeting of specific groups which threatened internet freedom or had withdrawn their services from Wikileaks.

Certainly, in the current hilarious if it wasn't so serious climate where the United States has just declared that internet attacks on it could be responded to militarily, LulzSec's Operation Anti-Security proclamation urging assaults on any government that turns against them seems to be an open invitation for a mass party vanning. With the war against terror beginning to wind down, the good old military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about needs to persuade governments of a new threat, and cyber attacks seem to be what they're latching onto. That this threat is even more imaginary than the much feared waves of suicide bombings that were meant to follow September the 11th, and even less dangerous than the average bedroom jihadist doesn't seem to matter; the defence budget has to go somewhere.

Easy as it is to approve of LulzSec forcing governments and corporations to put far better safeguards in place when it comes to the collection of their users' personal information, even if you don't find favour with their far less agreeable encouragement of Facebook or Paypal account hijacking with the data they've posted, it's difficult to see what it will end up achieving in the long run. For underneath the claim that they "don't give a living fuck at this point" at the potential for them to be "brought to justice", you imagine that if some of them do end up serving long stretches of prison time, as those in the US definitely are threatened with should the full force of the law be brought down, they certainly will later on. Then again, this could be the troll to end all trolls, us having been the victims of the "lulz lizards" all along. In any case, I'm just a loser posting shit I think matters, and someone will be shortly be along to tell me that my shit does not matter.

*Rules 1 and 2, people.

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