Reports are beginning to surface about a connection between the reporter Michael Hastings and a mysterious cybersecurity firm known as Endgame.
Hastings has been linked to Barrett Brown, who the government alleges is the leader of the hacker group Anonymous. Brown is in jail and is being held without bail. The web site Free Barrett Brown reports:
Having previously been raided by the FBI on March 6, 2012 and not charged with any crime in relation to that incident, on September 12, 2012 Barrett Brown was again raided and this time arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was online participating in a Tinychat session. He was subsequently denied bail and detained without charge and adequate medical treatment for over two weeks while in the custody of US Marshals. In the first week of October 2012, he was finally indicted on three counts.
These charges are related to alleged activities or postings on popular websites such as Twitter and YouTube, in which he postured for the return of property which was taken from him in March, and expressed frustration at the targeted campaign against him and a member of his family. The Department of Justice issued a press release at the time.
On December 4, 2012 Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve additional counts (see: DOJ press release) related to data from the Stratfor breach.Also, according to the web site, Hastings was planning to interview Brown:
Before his untimely death, Hastings was working on a story about Barrett, announcing mysteriously to his followers “Get ready for your mind to be blown.” Hastings had been in touch with Barrett’s lawyers, and intended to interview him in June for the story. Barrett has been in prison for 281 days pending trial, and faces over a hundred years imprisonment for what Hastings called ”trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous.”Before his suspicious death in a fiery car crash, Hastings seemed to confirm this planned interview, in a tweet and hinted it was relative to a very big story:
@ronbryn @BarrettBrownLOL working on it. there was an election, and still a few wars going on. but get ready for your mind to be blown.
— Michael Hastings (@mmhastings) January 24, 2013
Barrett, at the time he was arrested,was studying Endgame. The Nation reports:
Brown began looking into Endgame Systems, an information security firm that seemed particularly concerned about staying in the shadows. “Please let HBGary know we don’t ever want to see our name in a press release,” one leaked e-mail read. One of its products, available for a $2.5 million annual subscription, gave customers access to “zero-day exploits”—security vulnerabilities unknown to software companies—for computer systems all over the world. Business Week published a story on Endgame in 2011, reporting that “Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems.” For Brown, this raised the question of whether Endgame was selling these exploits to foreign actors and whether they would be used against computer systems in the United States. Shortly thereafter, the hammer came down.
The FBI acquired a warrant for Brown’s laptop, gaining the authority to seize any information related to HBGary, Endgame Systems, Anonymous and, most ominously, “email, email contacts, ‘chat’, instant messaging logs, photographs, and correspondence.” In other words, the FBI wanted his sources.So what is Endgame? According to Darker Net:
Endgame [is] a company that specialises in hacking on behalf of NSA. Endgame also offers its intelligence clients — e.g. Cyber Command, NSA, CIA and MI6, etc — a unique map, called Bonesaw, showing exactly where targets are located. Both Bonesaw and Endgame were exposed in a recent article as part of the fallout from the Snowden revelations[...]“White hat” in this context means defensive Internet security – fighting the “black hat” attackers. We write this in part to show that Rouland and his company Endgame have in fact gone back to “black hat” with the approval of the Federal government, doing (and facilitating for others) the sorts of attacks that the Pentagon, the NSA and the like don’t want their fingers found in.[...]One key member of the board of directors at Endgame is retired Lt. General Kenneth A. Minihan (8) whose claim to fame is that he was the 14th director of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. He is a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a founder of the National Information Assurance Program which is a United States government initiative to meet the security testing needs for information technology for both consumers and producers that is operated by the NSA and was originally a joint effort between the NSA and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). [...]
The “services” offered by Endgame include offensive and defensive vulnerability research including software called Bonesaw supporting the detection and mitigation of cyber threats. This basically means that they cover both offensive and defensive aspects of computer security. What they can do is show what computers exist at specific locations and show the user of “Bonesaw” what software vulnerabilities are on those computers, making attacks easy against citizen, business or government systems across the planet.(18) Bonesaw has information in it about both threats and targets and can connect the two, for the low, low price of $2.5million per customer per 25 exploits according to Emails found by Anonymous in 2011.Does the mysterious Endgame have any role in the ending of Hastings' game? Who knows? Like a good murder mystery there is more than one possibility as to who may have wanted Hastings dead. His reporting did, after all, take down a high ranking general. But, keep in mind that there is no direct public evidence that Hastings was even murdered. That may be, though, only because evidence is being destroyed. Hastings' body was cremated, even though this was not the desire of the family.
In other words, we have a great mystery,which now includes a firm with the name, Endgame.