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[CT] DISCUSSION - Anonymous vs Cartels

Released on 2012-03-02 01:00 GMT

Email-ID 166280
Date 2011-10-24 16:32:57
Reposting this with a new shorter focus. Instead of discussing possible
cartel responses, the focus is on what type of threat Anonymous can pose
to cartels. The video released by Anonymous, threatens revealing personal
information on cartels as well as states a member had been kidnapped. I
could not find any sources outside of Anonymous' claims of the individual
being kidnapped. According to their facebook sites (Anonymous Mexico and
Anonymous Veracruz) it sounds like it may be an individual posting flyers
in Veracruz as part of the Operation Paperstorm protest, although that is

Link: themeData
Anonymous, a well-publicized hacker group famous for distributed
denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks on government websites, lashed out at
drug cartels via the Internet with a statements denouncing Mexico's
criminal cartels, including a video depicting a masked individual
addressing Mexican drug cartels on October 10? With the most recent video
release, Anonymous makes bold threats towards the criminal cartels in
Mexico. Threats such as releasing identities of taxi drivers, police,
politicians, and journalists who collude with criminal cartels. The hacker
group demanded Los Zetas release a fellow kidnapped member otherwise face
consequences. In the Anonymous' video, this coming November 5th was
mentioned as a day cartels could expect Anonymous' reaction if their
demands of releasing a kidnapped member are not met. The potential of
conflict between Mexico's criminal cartels and hackers, presents a unique
threat towards TCOs. We know of cartels lashing out at online bloggers,
but I haven't seen any reporting on cartels dealing with any headaches
from hackers before.

What Anonymous brings to the table in a conflict
o Anonymous would not pose a direct physical security threat to
Mexican cartels.
o Anonymous' power base is the ability to exploit online media
o Anonymous hackers do not have to be in Mexico to lash out at

While not certain, there is a potential for Anonymous to pose a threat
o It is unknown if Anonymous's claims to possess identifiable
information on cartel members
o It is unknown what information Anonymous could acquire on
o Bank accounts, any online transactions or communications,
identifiable information on cartels members have to be considered in the
realm of possibilities for
o Anonymous has demonstrated it's ability to reveal illicit
online activity (child pornography rings)

Anonymous hackers likely have not been involved in the ultra-violent world
of drug trafficking in Mexico. As a result, their understanding of cartel
activities may be limited. Anonymous may act with confidence when sitting
in front of a computer, but this may blind them to any possible
retribution. They may not even know the impact of any online assault of
o Revealing information on taxi drivers and journalists will cost
lives. Anonymous may not understand some of these individuals are forced
to collude with cartels. Taxi drivers are often victims of
extortion or coerced to act as halcones. Revealing the identity of these
individuals will not have a significant impact on cartel
operations. Politicans have been accused of working with cartels (Guerrero
& Veracruz' governor) before, however there has yet to be any consequences
from this.
o Anonymous hackers may not understand the extent cartels are
willing to go protect their operations.
o Any hackers in Mexico are at risk.
o Cartels have reached out to the computer science community
before, coercing computer science majors into working for them.
o This provides the cartels with the possibility of discovering
hackers within Mexico.

On 10/17/11 10:19 AM, Marc Lanthemann wrote:

Oh man we are threading new ground here - I like the idea but there are
several issues to address and fix here.

These are the bullets of my main analytical concern with the discussion:

o we don't know who got kidnapped or why. that's fine but we
can't gloss over that fact
o "hackers" is a blanket term - there's a difference between
stealing bank records from government computers and overloading main page.
o There's no thought out process of what sort of information
could anon have on the cartels. What kind of info is kept online and
accessible to potential attacks? You seem to be talking about
identities, whose? If anything it's dirty cops, politicians and
businessmen who need to worry about what anon is going to be saying.
Think about why the bloggers and media were killed in previous
instances. Was it because they revealed operational details, because
they acted as informants, because they exposed links with officials or
because they somehow sullied the cartel's reputation? In short, what
kind of information is damaging to the cartels themselves?
o Once you identify this info - think about if anon can
realistically access it and disseminate it so it causes a measure of
damage. Anon doesn't have any intelligence capacity except for the
technical ability by a very small number of its members to infiltrate
certain networks and databases and steal information. Now what kind of
information would a cartel keep on a network that is connected to the
internet (aka no intranet)? Where else could information be found?
Government databases? Once we know what kind of information is
accessible, we can also know more about the consequences of
o What's the IT capacity of a cartel? Sufficient to trace back
attacks? If it's not, there risks to be a lot of killings done by people
who may not understand the difference between an anon hacker and a

On 10/17/11 9:47 AM, Colby Martin wrote:

wanted to forward Karen's thoughts to analyst

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: [CT] DISCUSSION - Anonymous vs Cartels
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 09:28:18 -0500
From: Karen Hooper
Reply-To: CT AOR

you've got some of the issues here, but this is going to need a lot
more work

You need to lay out:

a) What exactly is going on with Anonymous, your trigger section is
b) what our assessment of the online cartel presence is, and therefore
their vulnerabilities and capabilities
c) How capable is Anonymous of breaching high security anything
d) how far the cartels would be willing to travel to kill anyone who
breaches their systems or exposes their connections

I also just want to point out that we have reasonable reliable insight
that Sinaloa at the very least has some significant levels of
sophistication in their online presence, to include the use of cyber
currencies and significant IT capacity. There is no reason to assume
that Los Zetas don't also conduct business online, in a protected

Karen Hooper
Latin America Analyst
o: 512.744.4300 ext. 4103
c: 512.750.7234
On 10/17/11 8:46 AM, Renato Whitaker wrote:

On 10/17/11 8:25 AM, Tristan Reed wrote:

Link: themeData


Recently, Mexican cartels have faced a new enemy, hackers. Anonymous,
a well-publicized hacker group famous for...?, lashed out at drug
cartels via the Internet with a statements denouncing Mexico's
criminal cartels, including a video released depicting...? a person
talking? a voice? words on a screen? exactly when?. With the most
recent video release, Anonymous makes bold threats towards the
criminal cartels. Threats such as releasing identities of Mexican?
American? taxi drivers, police, politicians, and journalists who
collude with criminal cartels. The hacker group demanded Los Zetas
release a fellow kidnapped member otherwise face consequences. The
potential of conflict between Mexico's criminal cartels and hackers,
presents an unprecedented war front for the cartels. The vastly
different operations of Anonymous and Los Zetas leave a conflict both
Anonymous and the cartels have little experience in handling. i
believe that Anonymous has no experience with the cartels. I do not
believe for a second that the cartels have no experience with hackers.

In the Anonymous' video, this coming November 5th was mentioned as a
day cartels could expect Anonymous' reaction if their demands of
releasing a kidnapped member this should be mentioned right up front.
Cartels have a member, Anonymous is threatening to hit back. Provide
enough details so we understand who this guy is and why/how he was
abducted. are not met. If Anonymous' claims of possessing revealing
information on cartel members and operations are true, cartels will
likely respond with violence against individuals revealed as opposing
cartel members huh? you mean Anonymous members?. It also is likely
that public disclosure of GOM officials who collude with DTOs will
force the GOM to take action, giving the Anonymous threat complexity i
don't understand what this means. You mean the GOM will threaten
Anonymous?. How effectively any cartel will be able to retaliate
against Anonymous remains unanswered . However, cartels will continue
their threats against any individual using online media WC.... you
mean tools? or weapons? We're not talking about bloggers here. against
the cartels.

The Battle Space

Anonymous's and the cartels activities exist in two separate realities
from each other. Anonymous operates solely in sphere of the computer
networks. Anonymous does not experience geographical boundaries. All
personalities within Anonymous, exist solely in cyber space. (That is
not entirely true. They are physical people tho live in the real
world. They have names and addresses - although most of them are
likely outside of MX.) Anonymous' power base consists of their
technical capabilities in hacking. Any information connected to the
Internet is vulnerable to exploits by hackers. (Identifying the pc's
of individual cartel members in the midst of Mexico's population could
be quite difficult. Remember that most of what Anonymous has done are
DDOS attacks. Sucks if you are Mastercard or a big company with a
website that brings in revenue, but it does not really matter if you
don't run operations on the web. Los Z don't make much money via
e-commerce. They are also far less dependent on the web than the

Anonymous is known for its hacking endevours, but it's power base
consists of the perceived anonymity that its members believe
themselves to have, real or otherwise, by operating through the
internet. This gives an opening for people disgruntled by anything and
everything to practice general dickery. As the popular meme goes,
anonymity + audience = troll. Only a fraction of the large web of
people who identify themselves as "anonymous" have any sort of serious
IT capability.

The largest threat towards a hacker's existence so far has been from
targeted arrests by Law Enforcement Agencies.

The criminal cartels in Mexico operate on the streets in US and
Mexican cities. They are run as a business, always looking to maximize
profits and expand. But they are bricks and mortar commerce. Yes.....
but they use the internet to launder money and issue commands. We know
that Sinaloa does that from insight. There is no reason to assume that
Los Zetas don't have a similar capacity. Their power base is built by
large amounts of revenue and escalating brutal violence. Cartels like
Los Zetas, are experienced in facing different types of threats.
Cartels are always suffering at the hands of cartel on cartel
violence. While battling each other, cartels still face arrests by Law
Enforcement Agencies. As cartels wish to avoid any hindrance in the
flow of drugs and money, cartels have targeted media outlets.
Murdering journalists and online bloggers in order to cover details of
their operations. ok... but that's kind of a red herrng for this
discussion. You need to focus on the possible vulnerabilities of the
cartels. Don't just assume they have no cyber presence.

Anonymous' Weapons

Whatever impact will be felt due to Anonymous' actions against
criminal cartels has yet to be seen. Anonymous' only ability to combat
cartels lay in information operations, mainly disseminating sensitive
information on cartels and propagating anti-cartel statements via
social media and defaced websites in Mexico you mean so far and that
we know of?. As Anonymous admitted in their video to cartels, they
cannot fight with guns. The significance of a targeted information
operations campaign by technically elite individuals can not be
overlooked should not be underestimated. Cartels view main stream
media outlets and social media blogs as such a threat to their
operations, that they have continued to target journalists and
bloggers. Last month, a message signed by Los Zetas was placed with a
dead female body more relevantly, on the body of a blogger. The
message threatened any users who denounce cartels on blogging
websites. getting repetitive here, and it's not really addressing the

As stated earlier, any information connected to the internet risks
disclosure by Anonymous. There is ample reason to suggest Anonymous is
capable of possessing information they threaten to release. By
releasing identities of individuals cooperating with Mexican cartels,
Anonymous threatens the life of those individuals. Anonymous's ability
to disseminate sensitive information is limited by what is available
via the Internet. Government computers connected to the Internet
should always be considered a possibility of an attack. However, as
with the compartmentalized nature of the US governments computer
networks, information available to Mexico's intelligence collection
may not be easy to acquire. what are you trying to say here? This
isn't clear at all

Cartel's Defense

A counter response to the video? by the cartels has yet to
see fruition. However, Anonymous' claims of a kidnapped member by Los
Zetas suggest Los Zetas have begun addressing the threat posed by
hackers so... how has there not been a counter response? also this
undermines your statements above about how Anonymous is soley internet
based, and underlines the vulnerabilities of associated members. How
did they find teh Anonymous member? The answer to that could very well
give you some indication to the technical ability of the cartels . As
Anonymous exists in abstract reality of the world wide web , the
cartels will face a number of challenges which rarely are posed for
them Again, how do you know? The USG has whole agencies dedicated to
fucking shit up in cyberspace. You can assume (and we have good intel
indicating that) they are working on disrupting the cartels.. Hackers
threatening cartels, can operate in any region of the world. Personal
information including locations is only available if a hacker chooses
to divulge it or if the subject of the attack is savvy enough to
figure it out. Hackers don't only work for Anonymous. Cartels are only
capable of dealing with their online enemy, if they can physically
reach out to them. Or start employing hackers of their own under their
payroll? Stranger things have happened, Why not a Zetas 2.0?

Cartels have been known to coerce the services of Mexican
citizens with a technical background. Recruiting the help of computer
science majors through personal threats has been reported in the past
where? What cartels? reported where?. Since cartels operate in the
world of urban violence and drug trafficking, they will likely need
the assistance of technical experts to help combat any threat by
computer hackers. While identifying bloggers inside of Mexico has
been demonstrated, it is unlikely cartels are capable of identifying
any hackers operating outside of Mexico. Even law enforcement agencies
such as the FBi, with far more technical experience and resources than
cartels, struggle to find hackers through investigations. A) How do
you know they are not in Mexico? (Who was the guy they kidnapped???)
B) I'm goign to assume that not all hackers are equally difficult to
track down

In order to compete with an online foe, cartels will
likely continue counter tactics they are most familiar with, brute
force. Cartels are still capable of their HUMINT operations within
Mexico "still"? why would we assume they wouldn't be?. Individuals
with alleged connections to hacker communities will likely be targeted
and interrogated by cartel members. Narco banners and public display
of violence will likely continue to be used to scare online media into
submission i'm not really seeing the online media-international
hacking group connection here. The cruel manners in which cartels
inflict harm, is something computer hackers have unlikely encountered
before in their life. Whether the fear of cartel violence softens the
confidence of Anonymous will remain to be seen until cartels are able
to seek out and capture members of the hacker group.. Or the Narcos
could call the collective bluff and simply go on and shrug off any
inconvenience that Anon can inflict.

Marc Lanthemann
Watch Officer
+1 609-865-5782