Australian whistleblower leaks top secret report to 4chan, users dismiss it as "fake and gay"

By midian182 ยท 17 replies
Aug 7, 2015
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  1. A whistleblower who uploaded a highly sensitive report obtained from the Australian Defence Intelligence Organization to 4chan is facing charges for leaking the information. When the data was originally posted it was mostly described as “fake and gay” by the few 4chan users who commented on it.

    Then 21-year-old Department of Defense graduate Michael Scerba allegedly managed to download the secret DIO assessment relating to the Five Eyes spying program, burn it to a disc, take it home and upload it to the anonymous image-sharing forum in 2012.

    The document reportedly contains information regarding the spying alliance between the US, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Prosecutors allege that the first two pages disclose sensitive information about sources, methods and targets related to intelligence gathering, as well as secret details about Australia’s relations with its strategic partners.

    Scerba’s 4chan post was allegedly titled "Julian Assange is my hero" and read: "I release what I feel should be in the media: bombings, civilian deaths, actions of the 'terrorists' that just aren't reported in the media."

    Four days after Scerba uploaded the information, a former Defense Signals Directorate employee stumbled onto posts talking about the documents while browsing the website. By this point, the original page had been removed. A user, who prosecutors allege was Scerba, complained that no one had believed the documents were real. "Plus to my dismay I just got a bunch of 'fake and gay' remarks and the secret documents went 404 [website not found] about 4 comments 1 hour later," he allegedly posted."So... any other suggestions on how to minimize getting caught by authorities?"

    Police tracked the IP address of the posts to Scerba’s house, where they seized his computer and a discarded broken disc which prosecutors say was used to bring the file home. Analysis of the PC found traces of the posted images and evidence that Scerba had been searching online for ways to cover his tracks.

    No date has been set for Scerba’s trial, although court records suggest he could plead guilty on one charge in return for a plea deal.

    Image credit: CarpathianPrince / Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 114   +67

    Uhhh boot with any Linux distro and zero out the hard drive ... O_O
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,739   +3,757

    Well, this validates my idea that the best way for the govt to cover up a program is for the program itself to be inherently unbelievable.

    Now I just need to figure out how to get into America's Stargate program.
  4. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Yeah, keep believing that doing that makes it impossible to recover things.
    MongooseTechie and davislane1 like this.
  5. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 114   +67

    Target shooting with your hard drive works pretty well too... =)
    MongooseTechie likes this.
  6. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,829   +634

    So your suggesting they have the technology to restore the magnetism of all the sector on a hard drive to the pre zeroed state? Please elaborate.
  7. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    I read that its possible to recover data after its been written up to like seven times.

    Of course, I read this on the internet.. and I have no sources to link because I'm too lazy to do some google searches at the moment.

    Let me just ask you this, why do data wiping programs do multiple passes? Just to be overly extraordinarily paranoid? No, I dont think so... I think there's a reason, whether I have sources to back this up or not.
  8. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Also, do you think magnetic pulses are exactly the same? it can be a 1 or a 0, but I also think that if you have something to measure how strong that magnetic pulse is, you can probably see that some are weaker than others.

    I dont even know what its called, and I could be ignorant... but in this world, nothing is ever perfectly a 1 or a 0.
  9. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

  10. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,320

    It is when it comes to "on or off" like a transistor or "negative or positive" like a hard drive disk. At least until you get into quantum computing anyway...
  11. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,596   +257

    Last post...

    "Gutmann explains that when a 1 bit is written over a zero bit, the "actual effect is closer to obtaining a .95 when a zero is overwritten with a one, and a 1.05 when a one is overwritten with a one". Given that, and a read head 20 times as sensitive as the one in a production disk drive, and also given the pattern of overwrite bits, one could recover the under-data."


    I dont know how credible this is either, to be honest. But it's along the lines of what I was trying to say in my own way. lol
  12. SirChocula

    SirChocula TS Addict Posts: 110   +102

    Honestly, unless I'm missing something here and correct me if I'm wrong but 4-chan isn't the place to really disclose information and have it taken seriously.
  13. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    Judging by how he googled afterwards how to get away with it I don't think he particularly thought it through.
    MongooseTechie likes this.
  14. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,829   +634

    Beat me to it, I was going to bring up quantum computing to demonstrate the fact that something could be both on or off, in this case a 1 and a 0 at the same time. But this is mostly theoretical physics at the moment and really has nothing to do with the topic.

    Gutmann's explanation does make sense, but then again it can still be beat with enough passes theoretically, and then you can always physically destroy the platters after writing 0s to the drive 35 times if your still insecure about your data being recovered. For example soak them in acid overnight then burn them with fire, data gone!
  15. gollum21

    gollum21 TS Rookie Posts: 22

    This dude is a graduate from the Department of DEFENSE and he didn't even proxy himself while leaking highly classified information.

    Give me your job plz k thnks.
  16. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 114   +67

    Any VPN and a proxy site...done deal.
    gollum21 likes this.
  17. MongooseTechie

    MongooseTechie TS Rookie

    You think that'd do it against as determined an attacker as the Five Eyes alliance on a vengeance mission, then you're extremely naive. Their computer power is measured in size - in ACRES, not in number of servers any more.
    Even I know better than you, and I don't use such methods, because I'm not hiding anything (but if it came down to it I'd like to know how so I learnt - Big Brother and all that).
    As an academic exercise, I suggest you learn the difference between "security through obscurity" and "security through best practice and genuine secure methods". Even a standard single-degree-of-separation VPN is more like the former than the latter...
  18. Nitrotoxin

    Nitrotoxin TS Addict Posts: 114   +67

    I suggest you read the article as my reply was in response to that...ty

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