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[liberationtech] In his own words: Confessions of a cyber warrior

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Wed Jul 10 18:56:17 PDT 2013

On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 8:58 PM, Maxim Kammerer <mk at> wrote:

> On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 3:22 AM, Shava Nerad <shava23 at> wrote:
> > So perhaps the journalist is giving you as the reader a little credit for
> > reading between the lines, intelligently (that being the root of the
> word:
> > inter for between, and legens for reading), to figure out what exactly
> you
> > can draw as credible or not, but the point may be -- omg, this is what
> we're
> > grabbing for our cream of the crop?"
> The problem is that when you try to read between the lines, the whole
> story looks like it was sucked out of author's index finger, after
> reading the Wikipedia article on NSA and viewing a few YouTube videos
> about hacker communities. He would learn about backdoors in encryption
> equipment by ordering their manuals? Where from, exactly, would he
> order such classified material? How would he search for backdoors if
> all radios since 70's are modularized, and manuals for sensitive
> equipment certainly wouldn't contain schematics for the modules
> inside? Does the writer have any idea how rare it is for someone to be
> really good at both hardware and software hacking? Or how unlikely it
> is for a high-school dropout to be able to break even the simplest
> frequency hopping encryption? Etc.
> --
> Maxim Kammerer
Liberté Linux:

Or it looks like a guy in a boat bullshitting a reporter about his job,
which is fine too.  The point is, the content doesn't have to be credible
for the character portrait to be interesting.  The content could even be
intentionally misleading and the character portrait is still interesting.

We are used to suspending trust, right?  So where in this article do we
suspend trust?  Do we suspend trust of the journalist?  His subject?  Or

I find that more interesting as a question than the pilpul, I suppose, but
that's because I am more of a social engineer than a software or hardware
hacker, so that's what I bring to the discussion. ;)

Case one:  The journalist is untrustworthy (so of course the cyberwarrior
is untrustworthy, and a figment)
-- useless to argue details.
[But I don't see this as likely, he's got a 15 year record I think of
writing privacy stories.  Why bother?]

Case two:  The journalist is trustworthy and the cyberwarrior is full of
-- arguing details might help us determine how full of shit -- annoying but
possibly useful

Case three:  The journalist is trustworthy and the cyberwarrior is
-- see case two

Because, even in case three, people are full of shit bragging about their
jobs, and even trustworthy journalists always get things wrong about tech.

But in finality my best guess is, the journalist is trustworthy and the
only thing I can really trust is the general characterization of the hacker
and his job.

I'd base nothing on the details (and the blog article I wrote was inspired
by the characterization of what the installation is doing, not the details)
just based on the concept that there are two men in a boat (likely insisted
on not being unrecorded) with fishing poles and likely beer involved in the
sun all day, and a story told after.

And you know the kind of fish stories that come out of those situations...:)

Disclaimer:  Some of my best friends are journalists...  Maybe even me,
sometimes...  Know your limitations?


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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