Circa 2010 and 2011, a year or so before I joined the staff of Ars Technica, I had followed the online antics of Anonymous from a distance. I knew the rough outline of Anonymous, its initial motives (“for the lulz”) and its consequences, such as the legendary (and hilarious) hack of security firm HBGary Federal, as reported in these hallowed pages.
But what I didn’t fully grasp until now was the full, complex and rich play-by-play story provided by somebody who knows the group as well as any bona fide Anon: Biella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University. Her new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy deftly chronicles the rise of Anonymous, and the fall of many of its most prominent members.
The tome details her time embedding with Anonymous in its IRC lairs, and even meets a few of them in person, including the recently released government informant Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known by his online handle, Sabu. (Who knew he was gluten-free?)