So you want to be Anonymous? Get Pricked, Don’t Be a Prick

Filed Under: Law & order, Privacy

I gave blood photo courtesy of iwona_kellie's Flickr photostreamGuest blogger Mrs. W was inspired by some of the happenings at DEFCON this year and decided to share her thoughts with Naked Security. Over to you...

A few hours after Mr. W got back late Monday night from DefCon 19 and started telling me stories, I deeply regretted not having gone.

One event in particular caught my attention. One of the DefCon Goons, BarKode, has been diagnosed and was hospitalized (now discharged) with a rare disease that destroys his red blood cells.

He needs blood and he needs a bone marrow match, so DefCon arranged for a blood drive and for the Be The Match Foundation to sign folks up.

I heard the Red Cross just wasn't prepared for the overwhelming turnout, filled their BloodMobile in less than an hour, and had to come back for more.

Maybe I couldn’t go back in time to attend the conference, but I could join everyone in spirit going forward. So I initiated the process of becoming a bone marrow donor.

I received my cheek swab kit a couple days ago and I’m dropping it in the mail today. Last week I went to Canadian Blood Services and donated again for the first time in years.

I’ve been meaning to for a while; I just stopped making the time for it. So you want to anonymously have some impact on the world? Forget exploiting vulnerabilities in websites and leaking their databases.

They won’t give you cookies and juice afterwards, you run the risk of ending up in jail, and your individual action amounts to ripping a tiny corner of a poster off their wall, very often with a lot of unnecessary collateral damage. Big frickin’ deal...


Instead, you could single-handedly save a life. Give blood. Sign up to be a bone marrow or stem cell donor. It may or may not help Barkode, but it’ll help someone like him.

Joining the marrow donor registry is easy. Both Be the Match (if you’re in the US) and One Match (in Canada), will send you a testing kit free of charge once they determine you’re eligible.

No doubt the same goes for organizations around the world, and they are all interconnected.

And if you need more convincing, watch or rewatch Jim Gilliam’s lovely talk, “The Internet is My Religion.”

Who’s with me? Are you already signed up? If not, will you commit to giving blood and/or signing up as a marrow donor?

P.S.: If you want to keep tabs on BarKode’s status, go here:

P.P.S.: Bravo to all the con-goers who pitched in to help. You’ve inspired me. Keep it up. :)

Mrs. W.

Creative Commons photo of "I gave blood" photo courtesy of iwona_kellie's Flickr photostream. Creative Commons comic courtesy of

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14 Responses to So you want to be Anonymous? Get Pricked, Don’t Be a Prick

  1. The only reason I haven't given blood this year is due to rules that say I need to wait 12 months from my last piercing... otherwise I would have done so months ago... :/

  2. Tim Owers · 1464 days ago

    Everyone, wherever you happen to be on this planet, knows how important donation is. Now whether it be blood, bone marrow or organ, we all share the responsibility of helping our fellow mankind and it really doesn't take an awful lot of effort on our part to do it. I have been the recipient of many pints of blood during my sixteen operations and am forever grateful to those anonymous souls who donated that blood. I am not allowed to donate blood but one day I hope several people will make good use of my organs when I have no more use for them!

  3. Anonymous 2 · 1464 days ago

    i don't really think what Anonymous is doing is necessarily wrong...

  4. DuDe · 1464 days ago

    So the message is: "Don't try to make the system better, be a sheep and support the system."

    If we took Mrs. W advice we would still live in simple huts while one king would live in a castle made of gold. But hey, we donated some blood. Way to go.

    • Mrs. W · 1464 days ago

      That's a false equality. My lack of support for Anonymous is not a lack of support for all acts of civil disobedience.

      Are you at least going to take a half hour every couple months inbetween dumping databases full of everyone's personal information and go get tapped for a pint?

      That's all I'm asking. . . because if you can't do that (assuming you're eligible), how seriously can we take you about your self-professed altruism?

      • DuDe · 1462 days ago

        I only dump databases on which i have the according rights to do so and I only do it for backups. Please don't just wildly accuse people of crimes without any lead.
        I don't donate blood, because I'm not allowed according to the donating rules here. back when i was allowed, I did it regularly.

        >because if you can't do that (assuming you're eligible), how seriously can we take you about your self-professed altruism?
        Now that we know that i can't, I'm either not eligible or you can't take my self-professed (did I really do that?) altruism seriously. Too bad. What do?

        • Mrs. W · 1461 days ago

          I guess I wasn't clear that wasn't directed a you-singular, but at the you-collective that is Anonymous, and for that I apologize.

          Many in Anonymous do cross legal (and for many of us, ethical) lines. Do you support them in that? And if so, is there anything justifying your support besides Schadenfreude?

          Though Anonymous claims to be "ethical" hacktivists, I have not yet seen a piece of well-thought-out, well-argued ethical reasoning that attempts to justify the collateral damage they cause. I can respect people who come to a different ethical decision than I would if I can see how they came to that decision. But as far as I can tell, it's just impulsive.

          Impulsivity needn't result in bad actions, but the question that remains is where Anonymous is on the Chaotic spectrum. Have you ever seen any action out of them indicating the majority of the collective would so much as mildly inconvenience themselves for the greater good? Or are their acts purely selfish?

    • commonsenseain't · 1463 days ago

      So what exactly is your message?

      How are you going to make the system better?

      What have Anonymous actually accomplished offline in the real world? How have they changed the system? How is broadcasting lots of people's private data going to make the world a better place?

      What's your plan? What have you actually got to contribute that's better than doing a simple tangible thing to help people?

      Take your time, I'll check back for your answer.

      • DuDe · 1462 days ago

        Your post seems a bit quirky to me, so I think you may just be drunk or trolling. I'll answer anyway:

        >So what exactly is your message?
        My message is exactly what I wrote above: Trying to ridicule people who want to change things for the good and tell them to do things that won't change things (for the big picture) will lead to a halt. Also I think donating blood is something one just does and motivates others to do, but not speaks about how much better it is than what others do.

        >How are you going to make the system better?
        I'm not gonna make it better. But thanks for the credit.

        >What have Anonymous actually accomplished offline in the real world?
        They were the first to stand against Scientology.
        They motivated/showed young people to stand up for their rights/believes.
        They raised the awareness for computer secutiry of the admin and average person.
        Why do you ask for offline accomplishments for a "group" that acts 99% in the online? Sounds stupid to me.

        >How have they changed the system?
        I don't think they did.

        >How is broadcasting lots of people's private data going to make the world a better place?
        Websites get secured, people who stole this data and didn't publish it can no longer steal more and no longer use some of it, if some have changed their passwords after being made aware that their data has been stolen (potentially from another thief too).

        >What's your plan?
        I don't have a plan. Why do you think I have?

        >What have you actually got to contribute that's better than doing a simple tangible thing to help people?
        Why do you ask this? Does it matter for this discussion about donating vs. the anonops?
        I work for two honorary posts. One makes life a whole lot better for a few people and the other allows me and about 100 people to play our sport at a respectable level for fun and for having excellent training games for the nationals.

        >Take your time,
        How kind, thank you for giving me time.

        >I'll check back for your answer.
        Puhhh, that's nice too. You're a really nice guy. Thank you for checking back. Why would I do if you wouldn't!!!

  5. commonsenseain't · 1464 days ago

    If we took her advice, maybe somebody would still be alive a year from now. But if you think it's better to do something that's forgotten by everybody tomorrow except for the prosecutors and the victims, go for it.

  6. They won't take my blood because of the medication I am on.

  7. I think most Anonymous members would rather "change the world" from the comfort of their bedroom, while running a DDOS program in the background as they play computer games and munch on their chips. It's their fantasy world, where they are heroes, but actually it's a rationalization for being too lazy to be generous or creative.

  8. Guest · 1463 days ago

    I personally find it amusing how people think that all anon hackers are your average basement teenager. I am a computer expert, and when i hear the CIA has been hacked, I don't think "A poster was taken down" Because the US government, in all of its branches, including the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and the like...generally receive D or F as a grade on their audited security every year. The CIA didnt get a grade higher than F for the first time until 2007. Although a basement dwelling teenager COULD likely breach the security, it is unlikely that the majority of anon members meet this criteria. I still support Mrs. W's ideas. But i think it is important to fight on the battlefront *like Anon* and in the background *like Mrs. W.*

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About the author

Chester Wisniewski is a Senior Security Advisor at Sophos Canada. He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics. You can follow Chester on Twitter as @chetwisniewski, on as Chester, Chester Wisniewski on Google Plus or send him an email at