The unflattering assessment of hactivist group Anonymous and its leaders that was distributed by Anonymous itself turns out to have been a hoax, and a bad one, distributed via Twitter and Tumblr by people claiming to be members of Anonymous.
The document had a few minor issues that indicated it might not be the product of the famously anal-retentive, process-addicted bureau, according to ThreatPost, a news feed from security software developer Kaspersky Labs.
Criticizing British police for arresting Topiary, once-and-future spokesman for Anonymous spin-off group LulzSec, for example, or describing LulzSec second-in-command Kayla as an American MidWesterner in his mid-twenties whose stunted personality was damaged by child abuse.
LulzSec members had let slip earlier this summer that Kayla was a 16-year-old girl with extraordinary hacking skills for her age.
What British police found would have made Kayla an even odder teenage girl when they arrested two men, aged 24 and 20, they accused of sharing the persona of Kayla.
The FBI has its faults, but it doesn't usually misidentify the gender or number of bodies occupied by a suspect who was arrested almost a week before the profile was "leaked."
Then, for those who were picky, were the misspellings, typos and citation of Wikipedia as a primary source for background on the group.
The FBI doesn't do Wikipedia. You can't interrogate Wikipedia. You can't intimidate Wikipedia. You can't make Wikipedia wear a blue suit.
As I and everyone else who wrote about the "leaked" document pointed out, though, the important part about the document wasn't whether any of the leadership of Anonymous or Lulzsec have any interesting sexual perversions or emotional problems, but whether, to what extent and how intensely the FBI pursues them.
It pursues them intensively, and with lots of company.
The Department of Homeland Security put out three bulletins in the past few months describing the group's attacks and characterizing it as being more coherently organized than Anonymous claims, thought it is unorganized enough to make it difficult for law enforcement to identify either participants or decision makers in various attacks, the DHS warnings said.
Though it has trouble identifying which hacks or attacks are Anonymous and which aren't, but follows up pretty quickly, chasing The Script Kiddies" immediately after they hacked NBC News' Twitter account to report more terrorist attacks on Ground Zero in New York on the 10 th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Script Kiddies is one of many splinter groups and subsets within Anonymous, all of which act independently and only some of which either cooperate with or participate in "central" organizing groups within Anonymous, according to a security specialist and former Anonymous spokesperson in Dallas named Barrett Brown, as quoted by MSNBC.
Though none of them are admitting anything, Anonymous and/or LulzSec also hacked the files of a trade group called the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a professional group made up of federal intelligence workers.
Since December of last year, more than 100 have been arrested and accused of malicious hacking in the U.S. and U.K., largely as a result of joint investigations and information sharing arrangements between law enforcement agencies of the two countries.
So, yes, the document painting a slightly silly and offensive series of profiles of Anonymi and LulzSec was faked, by LulzSec and (probably) members of Anonymous, as part of a misinformation campaign that, at one point, also involved the "leak" of a supposed plan to frame a fake "Topiary" to make British and U.S. police, not to mention bloggers and their readers. The supposed Q&A, the fake FBI profile and any other materials that seemed to offer clues to an Anon's identity might very well be fake, the people arrested may not be Anonymi and the idea that the faster the police race down a particular road, the more likely the track was to be wrong.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.