Beyond the Rhetoric: The Complicated, Brief Life of Occupy Boston

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Dewey, post eviction


Dewey Square after the Dec. 10 eviction of Occupy Boston
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At 5 a.m. on Dec. 10, 72 days into the occupation of Dewey Square, Occupy Boston’s little village of tents and pallets was erased.

Just before its disappearance, Occupy Boston was the oldest and largest of the remaining Occupy protests that have, since September, not only changed the geography of American parks in hundreds of towns and cities around America, but the Americans’ political and social dialogue.

occupy

Whatever you think of Occupy Wall Street’s tactics, methods or politics, one thing is indisputable: the Occupy Wall Street movement makes people emotional. Even after wading through confusion to understand how Occupy actually works, people tend to love it or hate it.

And Boston is an emotional city. More than any Occupy I visited, passersby would scream and honk in support and derision many times a day.

Courtney Stanton, a 30-year-old project manager who worked at a software firm on the 20th floor of the Boston Federal Reserve building next to the park, was in the love category. She had a bird’s eye view of the protest, though her first visit came just as the camp prepared for its end.

“The window by my cube overlooks the Greenway. So, when I lean outside I can push my face against the glass, I’m looking right on Dewey Square,” Stanton said.

She’s watched Occupy Boston from day one.

“I always really liked that it was there,” Stanton said, as we sat in South Station, a major Boston train and bus commuting hub across the street from the Occupy. “I feel really strongly about people being able to peacefully organize and peacefully protest. [The Occupy] made visible especially a lot of problems that are already in Boston. It’s a space where that’s allowed to exist. I’m really sad to see it go away, because now it dismantles all of these individuals who together represent a systemic problem and it makes easy to dismiss them again as just individuals with problems.”

While the Occupy didn’t disrupt life in the Fed, it was impossible to ignore.

“Any time they were having any kind of group meet up that required the people’s mic, you could hear that 20 stories up, just hearing these weird little echos,” she said. “Because we all walk past it or see it every day, it automatically makes everybody talk.”

Stanton thought and talked a lot about political issues while the Occupy camped on her doorstep, and about how she’s had to help more and more of her family as the economy has turned worse.

“I don’t think that some people have a lot left. I mean, we tried voting. It’s kind of hard when they can buy all your politicians. It doesn’t really matter. I think for a lot of people who feel that the two-party process is breaking down, what are you going to do? Are you going to try to find an independent candidate who’s never even going to get funding?” Stanton said, “Or are you going to sit on a street and exist and insist that people see you?”

But the people who love Occupy Boston, and hate it the most, are the occupiers themselves.

Austin Smith was a medic with the Occupy since the night of the first eviction.

“[There were] a lot of the divides that were already on the street. People who use IV drugs versus people who don’t. People who’ve been sober versus people who aren’t. It’s very easy to kick the can down, ‘I’m better than this, I’m better than that,’” he said, referring to the hierarchies of dignity that divide the poor and troubled in Boston.

“But we managed to get away from that. Slowly, one person at a time, one step at a time, it was an ugly process…. It was a matter of certain people being assertive about not allowing certain language. Not throwing the word ‘junkie’ around all the time. Just checking people on the way that they were speaking.”

Occupations don’t come together because they are the best and brightest. Some of the best and brightest are there, but the camps are also full of the indigent, the addicted, the damaged, those forgotten by society. They come for food and safety, but they stay for the sense of agency. Everyone has a voice in the Occupy, anyone can speak up at the GA.

“I go back and forth, sometimes I just love it, it’s the most amazing place ever,” said Robin Jacks, one of the founders of Occupy Boston. “And then we’ll have times when no one is here, the only people here are the addicts that aren’t activists, and they just destroy things. To see something that I worked so hard on disrespected and used for something else is frustrating.”

A Temporary Restraining Order

Occupy Boston was the first camp to seek and get legal protection from a court that kept police at bay and let them develop an encampment that pointed to what the Occupy Movement may come to mean. It was as much a place where people groped for community as they spent time protesting for social and political change. In just over two months, the leaderless and inclusive Occupy became a new way of being in the world for its participants.

But on Dec. 7, Occupy Boston lost the restraining order that had been protecting them since Nov. 15, as the court ruled their protest encampment wasn’t protected by the First Amendment. They received their eviction notice the next day, with police coming through the camp and telling people they had until midnight to clear out.

Around a thousand people poured into the camp to support the Occupy, and midnight came and went with only an elevated police presence. Marching bands marched and people danced. Occupiers closed the adjacent street, and even put tents in it for a time, before returning to the park.

But many people packed up and left rather than face the inevitable. The pallet sidewalks were dismantled, then rebuilt by others. Their statue of Gandhi was moved around several times as people tried to find the best place for him to be when the police came. A moving van helped some of the occupiers move their precious things away. The remaining tents and their occupants pulled in tighter and they stayed closer in the cold Boston night, awaiting the inevitable, after the partiers had departed.

The nation’s other major encampments had already fallen to similar police evictions: from Oakland, Portland, and Los Angeles to Zuccotti in New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Many dozens of smaller camps remain around the United States, and two larger encampments still stand, preparing for the winter, in Washington, D.C.

But as winter deepens and evictions pile up, the Occupy Wall Street movement faces a dark season for discontent. And with the eviction of Boston, it lost one of its most vibrant outposts in America.

Lawmaker Waters Down His Online Blacklisting Bill

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced amendments late Monday to the Stop Online Piracy Act — changes that dramatically water down the controversial measure’s scope.

A hearing on SOPA before the House Judiciary Committee, which Smith heads, is slated for Thursday. The original measure amounted to the holy grail of intellectual property enforcement, as it effectively gave private companies the ability to de-fund websites they alleged to be trafficking in unauthorized copyright and trademark goods — without having to get a judge’s approval.

Under the amended plan (.pdf), which was released late Monday, a judge would have to order ad networks to stop doing business with a site “dedicated” to infringing activities. Under the original proposal, a rights holder could make those demands on an ad network or payment processor and effectively kill off the site.

“That is pretty big,” said Sherwin Siy, a staff attorney with digital-rights group Public Knowledge.

The amendment, however, still gives legal immunity to financial institutions and ad networks that choose to boycott “rogue” sites.

Lamar’s amendments also clarify that sites ending in .com, .org and .net are not covered by the bill. Only foreign sites fall under SOPA’s wrath.

Yet the amendment still allows the Justice Department to demand that Internet Service Providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, block their customers from visiting infringing sites.

SOPA originally required ISPs to alter records in the net’s system for looking up website names, known as DNS, so that user’s couldn’t navigate to the sie.

Putting false information into the DNS system — the equivalent of the net’s phonebook — would be ineffective, frustrate security initiatives and lead to software workarounds, according to security experts. Smith seemed to acknowledge that during a hearing last month on the legislation, saying he would try to “ferret this out.”

Under Smith’s amendment, ISPs would not be required to redirect DNS at the urging of the Justice Department, but they would be mandated to employ some method to prevent infringing sites from rendering. ISPs, could, for instance, adopt tactics used by the Great Chinese Firewall to sniff for traffic going to a blacklisted site and simply block it.

Internet service providers, however, may still alter DNS under the amended version; it’s just not the required method.

The latest version of the bill is still vague on defining “rogue” sites and, like the older version, still gives the government the power to require search engines to remove sites deemed unlawful.

The proposal’s most vocal legislative opponent, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), has floated a counter-proposal that would empower the International Trade Commission to deal with rogue websites, a measure to which the entertainment industry has objected. That proposal is still in draft form.

Photo: AP

Nitro attackers have some gall

Authored by Tony Millington and Gavin O’Gorman

The intercepted email in this blog was provided by Symantec.cloud.

The Nitro Attacks whitepaper, published by Symantec Security Response, was a snapshot of a hacking group’s activity spanning July 2011 to September 2011.  The same group is still active, still targeting chemical companies, and still using the same social engineering modus operandi. That is, they are sending targets a password-protected archive, through email, which contains a malicious executable. The executable is a variant of Poison IVY and the email topic is some form of upgrade to popular software, or a security update. The most recent email (Figure 1) brazenly claims to be from Symantec and offers protection from “poison Ivy Trojan”!

Figure 1 Fake malicious email

Furthermore, the attachment itself is called “the_nitro_attackspdf.7z”. The attachment archive contains a file called “the_nitro_attackspdf                            .exe”. (The large gap between the “pdf” and “.exe” is a basic attempt to fool a user into assuming that the document is a PDF, when it is really a self-extracting archive.)

Figure 2 Contents of the attachment, including the genuine report

When the self-extracting executable runs, it creates a file called lsass.exe (Poison IVY) and creates a PDF file. This PDF file is none other than our own Nitro Attacks document! The attackers, in an attempt to lend some validity to their email, are sending a document to targets that describes their very own activity.

The threat, lsass.exe, copies itself to “%System%\web\service.exe” and attempts to connect to the domain “luckysun.no-ip.org”. This domain resolves to an IP, which is hosted by the same hosting provider that hosted most of the previously encountered IP addresses. Figure 3 is a partial graph of the domains involved, including the most recent activity.

Figure 3 Network map

Table 1 lists the latest emails intercepted by Symantec .cloud and the MD5s of the associated threat samples.

Subject

File name

MD5

Detection

Symantec Security Warning!

The_nitro_attackspdf .exe

90e793e64e63317db15f4a64be8b56f9

Trojan.ADH

so funny

123.doc.exe

0b1b0fe45a179f75a5c4c3bad21ca185

Backdoor.Bifrose

N/A

learning materials.doc .exe

eb404fe1eec399127ac39336427503ac

Backdoor.Bifrose

adobe update

Adobe Reader Update.exe

d3ee44d903876bd942fc595c96151df8

Trojan.ADH

Adobe Reader Upgrade Rightnow!

Install_ reader10_en_air_gtbd_aih.exe

d6404d5c7a65a23d8d1687fe1549d21e

Backdoor.Odivy

Safety Tips

Q329834_WXP_SP2_ia364_ENU.exe

14c9d01d152e25e98e6ee8758ecfa9a8

Trojan.Dropper

Table 1 most recent emails and samples

Despite the publishing of the whitepaper, this group persists in continuing their activities unchecked. They are using the exact same techniques - even using the same hosting provider for their command and control (C&C) servers. The domains have been disabled and Symantec have contacted the relevant IP hosting provider and continue to block the emails through the .cloud email scanning service.

Symantec.cloud customers have been and continue to be protected from attacks performed by this group.