What do they have in common? Apparently some methodologies, uncovered by the hacktivist group Anonymous.
Details can be found in an interesting, if dense, article at The Nation, which describes how Anonymous revealed dealings the Chamber of Commerce was having with a Cyber Security firm that did not limit itself to defensive measures.
Attorneys for the Chamber were caught negotiating for a contract to launch a cyber campaign using practically identical methods to those attributed to the Chinese, which reportedly could be used to cripple vital infrastructure and plunder trade secrets from Fortune 100 companies. The Chamber was seeking to undermine its political opposition, including the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) and MoveOn.org, but apparently had to scotch the plan after it was revealed by Anonymous.
The story of both the Mandiant report and the American lobbyist hacking conspiracy begins in February of 2011, when the hacktivist group Anonymous stole some 70,000 e-mails from a Bethesda, Maryland-based firm called HBGary Federal and dumped them onto the Internet. HBGary Federal was an affiliate of HBGary, a firm that maintained a database and discussion forum of hacking software called Rootkit.com, which served as a “malware repository where researchers stud[ied] hacking techniques from all over the world.” It appears the Chinese hackers, known as the “Comment Crew,” had participated to gain the types of software used to compromise computers owned by dozens of American interests.
The connection to the Heartland Institute is just circumstantial and I make that connection here:
The presentations, which were also leaked by Anonymous, contained ethically questionable tactics, like creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then subsequently exposing the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents.
I think we have here by far the most plausible explanation for the still mysterious beginning of the whole FakeGate controversy from just over a year ago. Heartland itself is likely the source of the initial forged document that came into Peter’s possession, but rather than simply running with it into their trap, he unexpectedly sought to verify its contents with a subterfuge of his own and thus got his hands on the real goods. (BTW, that is what is called real skepticism!). This also explains Heartlands rather shrill protestations, it is very hard to stomach when plots like that back-fire into your own face!
So, except for the absence of actual evidence, I think we can say “case closed”!