weev in 2010
|Born||Andrew Alаn Escher Auernheimer
September 1, 1985
|Known for||Internet trolling and hacktivism|
Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer (// AW-rən-hy-mər; born September 1, 1985), best known by his pseudonym weev, is an American black hat hacker, Internet troll and neo-Nazi. He has identified himself using a variety of aliases to the media, although most sources correctly provide his first name as Andrew. Although Auernheimer has stated he is of Jewish descent, he is a member of an antisemitic network of computer hackers that wages cyber-attacks against universities.
Auernheimer claimed responsibility for the reclassification of many books on gay issues as pornography on Amazon's services in April 2009. Amazon said that Auernheimer was not responsible for the incident. Even before the Amazon incident, several media publications profiled Auernheimer regarding his hacking and trolling activities, notably The New York Times, in which he claimed to be a member of a hacker group called “the organization,” making $10 million annually. He also claimed to be the owner of a Rolls-Royce Phantom. After the Times story on Auernheimer was published, reporters sought out Auernheimer for commentary on hacking-related stories. Gawker published a story on the Sarah Palin email hacking incident and prominently featured Auernheimer's comments in the title of the story.
AT&T data breach
Auernheimer is a member of the group of computer experts known as "Goatse Security" that exposed a flaw in AT&T security which allowed the e-mail addresses of iPad users to be revealed. Contrary to what it first claimed, the group revealed the security flaw to Gawker Media before AT&T had been notified, and also exposed the data of 114,000 iPad users, including those of celebrities, the government and the military. The group's actions rekindled public debate on the disclosure of security flaws. Auernheimer maintains that Goatse Security used common industry standard practices and has said that "we tried to be the good guys". Jennifer Granick of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has also defended the methods used by Goatse Security.
Shortly after the investigation was opened, Auernheimer's home in Arkansas was raided by the FBI and local police. The FBI search was related to its investigation of the AT&T security breach, but Auernheimer was subsequently detained on state drug charges. Police allege that, during their execution of the search warrant related to the AT&T breach, they found cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and schedule 2 and 3 pharmaceuticals. He was released on a $3,160 bail pending state trial. After his release on bail, he broke a gag order to protest what he maintained were violations of his civil rights. In particular, he disputed the legality of the search of his house and denial of access to a public defender. He also asked for donations via PayPal, to defray legal costs.
In January 2011, all drug-related charges were dropped immediately following Auernheimer's arrest by federal authorities. The U.S. Justice Department announced that he would be charged with one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization and one count of fraud. Although his co-defendant, Daniel Spitler, was quickly released on bail, Auernheimer was initially denied bail because of his unemployment and lack of a family member to host him. He was incarcerated in the Federal Transfer Center, Oklahoma City before being released on $50,000 bail in late February 2011. A federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey, indicted Auernheimer with one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and one count of identity theft in early July 2011. In September 2011 he was free on bail and raising money for his legal defense fund.
On November 20, 2012, Auernheimer was found guilty of one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. Auernheimer wrote he would appeal the ruling. Alex Pilosov, a friend who was also present for the ruling, wrote that Auernheimer would remain free on bail until sentencing, "which will be at least 90 days out."
On November 29, 2012, Auernheimer wrote an article in Wired entitled "Forget Disclosure – Hackers Should Keep Security Holes to Themselves," advocating the disclosure of any zero-day exploit only to individuals who will "use it in the interests of social justice."
[...]Aaron dealt with his indictment so badly because he thought he was part of a special class of people that this didn't happen to. I am from a rundown shack in Arkansas. I spent many years thinking people from families like his got better treatment than me. Now I realize the truth: The beast is so monstrous it will devour us all.
On March 18, 2013, after being found guilty of identity fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization, Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $73,000 in restitution. Just prior to his sentencing, he posted an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit; comments such as "I hope they give me the maximum, so people will rise up and storm the docks" and "My regret is being nice enough to give AT&T a chance to patch before dropping the dataset to Gawker. I won't nearly be as nice next time" were cited by the prosecution the next day in court as justification for the sentence.
Auernheimer was serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Allenwood Low, a low-security federal prison in Pennsylvania, and was scheduled for release in January 2016. On July 1, 2013, Auernheimer's legal team filed a brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Auernheimer's convictions should be reversed because he had not violated the relevant provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
On April 11, 2014, the Third Circuit issued an opinion vacating Auernheimer's conviction, on the basis that the venue in New Jersey was improper. While the judges did not address the substantive question on the legality of the site access, they were skeptical of the original conviction, noting that no circumvention of passwords had occurred and that only publicly accessible information was obtained. He was released from prison on April 11, 2014.
Activities after release from prison
In October 2014, Auernheimer published an article in the neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer in which he revealed himself to be a white nationalist. He displayed photographs of his tattoos, one in the shape of a Swastika. He described his prison time as "thousands of hours yelling the Eddas at the top of my lungs and scrawling runes on the concrete walls." In 2012, Auernheimer told Gawker that he had Jewish ancestry, though in the same article, Auernheimer claimed to have converted to Mormonism. Indeed, as the author points out, "Auernheimer deploys a peculiar rhetorical strategy that he's learned to work to his advantage: he peppers his conversation with bizarre but true facts and historical references—he has an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Greek history, world religions and contemporary U.S. anti-government extremists, among other things—then hits you with dubious details about his own life."
According to PandoDaily, Auernheimer was living in Lebanon as of 2014 in order to avoid further prosecution from the United States. A report in 2016 stated he was living "somewhere in Eastern Europe", but that his exact location was unknown; in a later interview with The Alphaville Herald, he clarified this as Kharkiv, Ukraine. Auernheimer has since stated on Facebook that he lives as a legal resident in Eastern Europe.
After Adult FriendFinder was hacked and customer information was released, Auernheimer searched through the files and used Twitter to publicly identify customers. He told CNN, "I went straight for government employees because they seem the easiest to shame."
As of October 2015, Auernheimer has been working in conjunction with independent-journalist Charles C. Johnson to publish names of government employees who were exposed by the Ashley Madison data breach and to post those names on Johnson's site, GotNews.com. He has also been involved in the Planned Parenthood video release, which were under Temporary Restraining Order. As described in the Washington Post article, he did it "For the lulz."
In March 2016, Auernheimer instructed many thousands of unsecured printers across several American universities to print out swastika-adorned flyers promoting The Daily Stormer. Auernheimer claimed to have used a "common tool" to scour the Internet for vulnerable printers and ended up finding over a million insecure devices.
In August 2016, Auernheimer again instructed many unsecured printers across several American businesses to print out swastika-adorned flyers this time labeled Samiz.dat. He signed these flyers -weev. He took credit on his Twitter page.
In January 2017, Auernheimer created a LiveJournal entry indicating he is now living in Ukraine and working as a political analyst.
Political views and critical reception
Auernheimer has published a number of podcasts and keeps a LiveJournal blog in which he offers commentary on racial and cultural issues. His views have proved controversial, causing Philip Elmer-DeWitt to dub him "the ugliest computer hacker". Rolling Stone calls his hacking results racist and homophobic while others have interpreted his work as deliberately offensive humor, with Fox News calling it "offensive and witty detail" and a Forbes author telling readers to "think: Shakespeare's Puck"; an Atlantic magazine author called this Puck reference "oddly generous."
On Red Ice Radio, Andrew reasoned that "The way I look at the term 'white supremacy'... Africans are supreme in Africa... it's not like the Chinese aren't supreme in China. Why shouldn't Whites be supreme in the nations of their forefathers?"
Auernheimer is an advocate for free speech. He defended the satirical wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica in a Ninemsn interview which was cited as "rather brilliant" in an article about Australian Internet censorship published in The Register. His actions have sometimes been described as hacktivism—Australian media commentator Emma Jane has characterized him as a "celebrity hacktivist".
The Daily Dot wrote of his white nationalism that "Auernheimer's rant has served mostly to put a wide chasm between the important case he was a part of from the ideas he got in prison and now loudly espouses."
Auernheimer is a member of the Gay Nigger Association of America, an anti-blogging trolling group who take their name from the 1992 Danish movie Gayniggers from Outer Space. Members of Goatse Security involved with the iPad hack are also members of GNAA. He was also formerly GNAA's president.
In 2008, The New York Times reported that Auernheimer claimed responsibility for posting a false account of programming author and game developer Kathy Sierra's career in 2007 including charges that she was a former sex worker, along with her actual address and Social Security number. This led to her receiving death threats and threats of sexual violence and to her online absence from 2007 to 2013. In 2014, Auernheimer denied that he was the author of the post and asserted that The New York Times author fabricated the statement that was attributed to him. Sierra has stated that, before this denial, Auernheimer repeatedly tweeted about the incident that she "had it coming" and deserved to be attacked.
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- United States District Court — District Court of New Jersey, Docket: MAG 11-4022 (CCC). Filed with the court January 13, 2011
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- "Criminal charges filed against AT&T iPad attackers — Computerworld". January 18, 2011.
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- "Twitter status, 3:38 PM – 20 Nov 12".
- "Twitter status, 3:32 PM – 20 Nov 12".
- Auernheimer, Andrew (November 29, 2012). "Forget Disclosure — Hackers Should Keep Security Holes to Themselves". Wired. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- Auernheimer, Andrew (January 23, 2013). "iPad Hack Statement Of Responsibility". techcrunch.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
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- weev (March 17, 2013). "I am weev. I may be going to prison under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act tomorrow at my sentencing. AMA.". Reddit. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- Brian, Matt (March 18, 2013). "Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer sentenced to 41 months for exploiting AT&T iPad security flaw". The Verge. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
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- "Orin Kerr's Appeal Brief for Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer – Another CFAA Case". Groklaw. July 2, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- "Case: 13-1816 Document: 003111586090" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-06.
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- Voreacos, David (April 14, 2014). "AT&T Hacker 'Weev' Parties and Tweets as Case Still Looms". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
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- Sam Biddle. "iPad Hacker and "Troll" Weev Is Now a Straight-Up White Supremacist". Gawker. Gawker Media.
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- "'weev' in Beirut: I can't go home until "most of the agents of the federal government are dead."". PandoDaily.
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- Brownlee, Lisa (9 October 2015). "Ashley Madison Users: Just When You Thought It Was Safe, Hactivist Ups The Ante". Forbes. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Mullin, Joe (8 October 2015). ""Weev" threatens prosecutors with info from Ashley Madison leaks". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (8 October 2015). "Hacker 'Weev' Releases Prosecutor's Alleged Ashley Madison Data After Threats". motherboard.vice.com. Vice Media. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Miller, Michael E (23 October 2015). "Controversial blogger, infamous hacker team up to release remaining Planned Parenthood videos". Morning Mix. Washington Post. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- WITW Staff Writer (23 October 2015). "The men who are conspiring to take down women's reproductive rights". Women in The World (blog). New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- "Neo-Nazi Hacker Distributes Racist Fliers Calling for the Death of Children". Southern Poverty Law Center. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
- "To all my friends in Ukraine: Time grows short, act now.". LiveJournal. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
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- Palmgren, Henrik; Auernheimer, Andrew (September 2015). "Andrew Auernheimer - Black Hat Hacking: Survival of the West, Syria & #GamerGate". Red Ice Radio. Event occurs at 13:50. Red Ice Creations.
- Paget, Henri (March 9, 2010). "Interview: Encyclopedia Dramatica moderator". Ninemsn. Ninemsn, a Microsoft and PBL Media Company. Archived from the original on 2010-03-25. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
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- "Open letter to federal scum". Pastebin.
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- Dean, Jodi (2010). Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780745649702. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
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- "Kathy Sierra". gossamer-threads.com.
- Kathy Sierra (2007-04-08). "A Very Sad Day". Archived from the original on May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Souppouris, Aaron (2013-09-12). "The end of kindness: weev and the cult of the angry young man". The Verge. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Andrew Auernheimer (2014-10-08). ""Women in tech", doxing, Kathy Sierra, and the koolaid.". Archived from the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-09.
- Andrew Auernheimer (2014-10-09). "Comment on "Women in tech", doxing, Kathy Sierra, and the koolaid.". Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
- Sierra, Kathy (October 8, 2014). "Why the Trolls Will Always Win". Wired. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
- "CHILDISH GAMBINO RECRUITS CHANCE THE RAPPER, JHENÉ AIKO AND AZEALIA BANKS FOR BECAUSE THE INTERNET LP". FACT. November 10, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- Weev Talks About Life In Prison And His Plans To Open A Hedge Fund, TRO LLC TechCrunch, March 15, 2014.
- U.S. v. Auernheimer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- U.S. v. Auernheimer from the Digital Media Law Project
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