The Tech Herald

Berico Technologies severs ties with HBGary over WikiLeaks plot

by Steve Ragan - Feb 11 2011, 23:28

Berico Technologies severs ties with HBGary. (IMG: WikiLeaks)

Earlier this morning, The Tech Herald reported that Palantir Technologies severed all ties with HBGary Federal and issued an apology to reporter Glenn Greenwald. Now, Berico Technologies, the second data intelligence firm who was linked to a systematic plan of attack against WikiLeaks, has cut ties with HBGary as well.

 

After the tip from Crowdleaks.org, The Tech Herald learned that Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies, worked together with law firm Hunton and Williams to develop a proposal for Bank of America in order to deal with the “WikiLeaks Threat.”

[Original article and all updates are here.]

Hunton and Williams would act as outside counsel on retainer, while Palantir would take care of network and insider threat investigations. For their part, Berico Technologies and HBGary Federal would analyze WikiLeaks.

Some of the things mentioned as potential proactive tactics against WikiLeaks include feeding the fuel between the feuding groups, disinformation, creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization, and submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks and then calling out the error.

Moreover, reporter Glenn Greenwald, who writes for Salon.com, was singled out in the proposal as a person offering a level of support to WikiLeaks that needed to be disrupted. This disruption would include making Greenwald, and others in similar situations, choose between professional preservation and cause.

On Thursday evening, Dr. Alex Karp, the Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, The Tech Herald a statement on the events and information presented in our original story.

“As the Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, I have directed the company to sever any and all contacts with HB Gary…I have made clear in no uncertain terms that Palantir Technologies will not be involved in such activities. Moreover, we as a company, and I as an individual, always have been deeply involved in supporting progressive values and causes. We plan to continue these efforts in the future,” the statement starts.

“The right to free speech and the right to privacy are critical to a flourishing democracy. From its inception, Palantir Technologies has supported these ideals and demonstrated a commitment to building software that protects privacy and civil liberties. Furthermore, personally and on behalf of the entire company, I want to publicly apologize to progressive organizations in general, and Mr. Greenwald in particular, for any involvement that we may have had in these matters.”

This afternoon, Berico Technologies’ Guy Filippelli, the CEO, and Nick Hallam, the COO, issued a similar statement.

“Our leadership does not condone or support any effort that proactively targets American firms, organizations or individuals. We find such actions reprehensible and are deeply committed to partnering with the best companies in our industry that share our core values. Therefore, we have discontinued all ties with HBGary Federal. We are conducting a thorough internal investigation to better understand the details of how this situation unfolded and we will take the appropriate actions within our company,” the statement reads.

“Late last year, we were asked to develop a proposal to support a law firm. Our corporate understanding was that Berico would support the firm’s efforts on behalf of American companies to help them analyze potential internal information security and public relations challenges. Consistent with industry standards for this type of work, we proposed analyzing publicly available information and identifying patterns and data flows relevant to our client’s information needs. Any subsequent discussions or proposals that attempted to extend the initial scope of work run counter to our organization’s values.”

The plot to target WikiLeaks’ organization and supporters came to light after Anonymous attacked HBGary and their affiliate HBGary Federal. The reason for the attack centers on HBGary Federal’s CEO, Aaron Barr, who went to the press claiming to have infiltrated the loosely associative group. Anonymous’ response to his claims was to hack the company and release thousands of emails to the public.

It is within these leaked emails that the plot against WikiLeaks unfolded. However, shortly after our story on WikiLeaks broke, the same three data intelligence firms were linked to a completely separate plot.

This time, the three were named in a story broken by Think Progress that said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went to them looking for help. They wanted the three to “undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.”

The original Think Progress story is here. A follow-up, including plans to target families and children is here. Some of the relevant emails, which were all leaked by Anonymous, can be seen here.

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