Who is Anonymous' Commander X? Not this guy

A San Francisco man was named by HBGary's Aaron Barr as the ringleader of Anonymous. Not so, says Ben de Vries.


Benjamin Spock de Vries would like the world to know he is not a cyber terrorist.

But if you read some of the 40,000+ emails that were stolen from HBGary Federal by Anonymous and posted on Pirate Bay, you might think otherwise.

It seems Aaron Barr -- the CEO of HBGary Federal who thought he’d make a big splash by outing the leadership of Anonymous and instead ended up getting ridden hard and put away wet by the very hackers he sought to expose -- decided de Vries is in fact the mysterious Commander X, alleged puppetmaster of the Anonymous collective. So he said as much in some of the thousands of private email conversations the Anons just shared with the world.

[ See also: That new Facebook friend might just be a spy ]

This did not make de Vries happy.

“I am not Anonymous,” de Vries told me during an agitated phone conversation last night. “I have never logged onto any Anonymous sites. I don’t use IRC. I couldn’t hack my way out of a paper bag.”

In fact, de Vries says he hadn’t even heard of the whole HBGary-Anonymous mishegas until Barr contacted him on February 5 via his Facebook alter ego, Julian Goodspeak (yes, really), and begged de Vries to please call off the DDOS attack on HBGary’s servers.

What attack? de Vries asked.

What followed was a weirdly elliptical conversation in which Barr chatted with the person he thought was Commander X while de Vries thought they were talking about something else entirely.

The reason Barr thought De Vries was the elusive X? Because de Vries is the founder and admin of a Facebook Group called Global Strike 2011, which appears to be popular with the Anons. That, or many of its members are just particularly enamored of Guy Fawkes masks and wicked cool handles like Anarcho Femmina and Anonomous AnonopsEsp (then again, who isn’t?).

Barr thought he had cracked the Anons by taking information from Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter and “correlating” it with activity inside IRC chats conducted by actual members of Anonymous. So he made what appears to be wildly inaccurate assumptions based on the facts that a) de Vries was the admin for Global Strike 2011, ii) fans of Anonymous frequented the site, and z) activity on that site occurred at more or less the same time as statements made inside IRC.

Ipso facto, de Vries is Commander X. Also, Justin Bieber is Lady Gaga’s love child. Pass it on.

I attempted to contact Mr. Barr for comment via email. I’m still awaiting his response.

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