Odious corporate spying firms, continued …

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Stumble and Fail at 1:22 pm by George Smith

Odious corporate spy firms Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies continue to reap the whirlwind of messing with the Anonymous hacking group.

Consider for a moment, firms which rely upon alleged expertise in computer security dieing by the same sword.

By way of Digby, Palantir et al were also doing dirty tricks for the US Chamber of Commerce, another famous villain on the national landscape.

“ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of ‘private security’ companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign,” reports the website of TP.

It reads:

According to one document prepared by Team Themis [Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico), the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to “generate communications” with Change to Win.

It’s always worthwhile to scan the self-serving websites of companies like Palantir, particularly after it has been exposed as place where the professional product appears to be dirty-tricking and trying enable the throwing of sand into the gears of the lives of others.

“At Palantir, the best idea wins,” reads the Palantir page here. “This means the respect of your peers must be earned; seniority has no place here. We are radically transparent and we despise politicking.”

This is also particularly trenchant now:

We embrace the adage, if you never fail, then you aren’t taking enough risks. We take failure as an opportunity to literally ask “Why?,” until we’ve diagnosed the problem and figured out how to prevent it from happening again. At Palantir, hiding a failure is taboo; here, you get respect for letting the rest of the company know what happened and how to avoid the same pitfall.

“Awhile back we shared some screenshots of the Elvish Palantir Workspace,” reads one company blog.

It is also worthwhile reviewing this bit of self-serving rubbish:

Palantir was built by technologists serious about protecting privacy and civil liberties.

“Palantir’s user-friendly analysis program is becoming a major player in the war against terrorism and cyber espionage, stimulus spending accountability (Palantir is literally powering the administration’s efforts to identify fraud in stimulus projects), health care, and even natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti,” reads more self-serving press from a happier time.

The company is fond of touting its terror-network finding software to business publications.

Which explains why the wars in Afghanistan and Yemen are all but over with Osama bin Laden captured in 2009. Oh, wait …

Now that Palantir has stepped in it, here’s an apology from its CEO, Dr. Alex Karp.

Short version: We do not do the awful things it looks like we’ve been caught doing because our name/insignia was all over those damning slides etc, etc.

It’s also worth noting the coincidence and serendipitous nature of their current trouble.

None of this would have likely made big news if one of the corporate spying firm employees hadn’t felt compelled to brag about how great he was to journalist Joseph Menn at the Financial Times.

When Menn bit on the story he was, basically, giving publicity to forces of evil.

The unexpected snapback, which came from the hacking group Anonymous — which the story had targeted — resulted in troubles and embarrassments for Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico, things the three firms were planning for WikiLeaks and others.

1 Comment

  1. blog said,

    February 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Odious corporate spying firms enjoy epic bad publicity day…

    Earlier this week, three odious private sector spying firms — Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies — stepped into a sh–storm when their plan to attack WikiLeaks and Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald was exposed on the web by the Anonymous…