• Adrian Lamo - Doing the Right Thing.

Adrian Lamo - Doing the Right Thing.

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Adrian Lamo - Doing the Right Thing.

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 22:47
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Adrian Lamo, the hacker turned government ally has died, aged 37.

Adrian Lamo, the hacker turned government ally has died, aged 37.

With the cause of death, not yet known, or at least not yet released, and his death classified as non-suspicious, we still have cause to speculate or at least reflect on how history (google history, of course) can and will view Adrian Lamo, the whistleblowers' whistleblower.

 Adrian Lamos' body was found by a neighbor on March 16th, last week. Although famous across the world for his hacking capabilities and his role in the high-profile Wikileaks case against Chelsea Manning, his fame and notoriety were at odds with his drifter lifestyle and identity as the 'homeless hacker', going from couch to abandoned warehouses.

To say that Lamo's life was peppered with a dubious trail of hacks, is an understatement.

He was applauded for operating AOL watchdog site and fortifying the corporate security at Worldcom in 2001. However, by 2002, Lamo had broken into the internal computer network of the New York Times and was doing his own private investigation on high profile targets.

At the time he was arrested and charged, Lamo had a list of cyber felonies against him, from Microsoft, LexisNexis and the New York Times.

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 Seen as a bizarre and somewhat eccentric cybercriminal, Lamos' statements to the press post sentencing, seemed to express non- committal remorse, stating "I want to answer for what I have done and do better with my life."

And boy did he.

The 2009 Manning Affair was probably one of the highest impact takedown of a Wikileaks Whistleblower, ever.  Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, the US Army Intelligence Analyst, regardless of which way the Political wind is blowing and how one may stand on the actions he took, passed over 260,000 classified diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, including the infamous video the US Helicopter attack in Iraq.

Part bragging, part loneliness, Manning ended up telling the details to Lamo online, who turned this info over to the authorities. Manning rightly viewed US Intelligence as having

"Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis… a perfect storm."

Yet, the important part about what Manning released was not that he was somehow illustrating the point that U.S. security was lax or that the 'freedom of information can be easily blended with cyber ego but demonstrated the horrific damage this exposure could do.

What was so important about the leaks was the timing. American security was severely compromised and furthermore, many have suggested that they in part inspired some of the uprisings.

Lamo saw the writing on the wall and put a stop to the unfolding crisis through patriotism, through fear, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that he did it and to this extent, Adrian Lamo is a hero.

Many in the cyber world disagree and Adrian receive plenty of death threats. Many feel like Manning, that the exposure of these documents somehow benefitted the greater good, I am still curious as to how they could possibly think that. The Wikileaks commitment to hidden information is all well and good, but with the leaked Manning documents we all saw the aftermath including several violent uprisings.

How one feels about Manning is up for debate or Wikileaks for that matter, however Lamo, unquestionably did what was right.   He took a huge decision about whether to turn Manning in and made the call for the greater good.

By James Azar on 3/20/18

Article first reported at CyberHub Summit