The Student Hacker Information Technology Podcast (S.H.I.Tcast) released episode 7 yesterday, June 17, 2010. The featured guest was Gregory D. Evans who wanted to address accusations of plagiarism. You can listen to the podcast for yourself, but one theme was apparent by the end of the interview. Evans feels that a lot of the criticism leveled at him is due to 'racial' bias.
While the last few days have been extremely active on Twitter regarding LIGATT, the core criticism of LIGATT and Evans has primarily originated here on Evans' Errata Page. Ben Rothke reviewed Evans' latest book and wrote a very factual and level-headed review. One thing missing from both efforts is any tone or hint of racism. There are a lot of African Americans practicing in Information Security, and not a one seems to have problems of race-based hatred or abuse.
Shortly after the interview was posted and digested by thousands, Evans and LIGATT released an article titled "How Can Computer Nerds Be Racist". The entire article further emphasizes the claims that criticism leveled at Evans' and his company is racially motivated. He goes so far to include snippets from an unknown source ranging from 6 months to 1 year ago, with racial slurs and insults. It isn't clear if these were in response to something specific, what site they came from or what prompted them. It is clear, that they are completely unrelated to the negative attention Evans has been receiving during the past month. This is also not the first time played the race card. Last time, it was to drum up business.
The article was written by "Seria Mullen" with two video replies from Evans himself. Next to Mullen's name is "her" picture and bio: "News Researcher @ LIGATT Security".
Note: This next part contains a small leap in association, but a certain level of coincidence makes it suspect, and worth posting. Please judge for yourself, as this is not 100% confirmed. Looking on Twitter, we find one "Seria Mullen" as @Im_SoPretty with a different picture:
Looking at who she follows, we see @MissEmotionless that has direct association with Evans (her boss). Further, she follows several people in the Atlanta area. So this Seria Mullen follows MissEmotionless who works for Evans, and other people in the same city Evans lives and works in. One step removed yes, but there is a relatively good chance that is the same Seria Mullen that works for LIGATT.
This leads to the obvious question, why is Evans or his employee posting an article with allegations of racial discrimination changing the race of the author in the bio picture? Worse, why are they using a copyrighted image of a reporter, Chloe White Kennedy, from News Sentinel (knoxnews.com)?
Before Evans can cry accident, consider that as of June 4, just fourteen days ago, there was no picture available for Mullen. Further consider that 24 hours after this article was published, the picture was removed.
In the article, "Mullen" again references old content, citing a "November 2009 article" that "blatantly bashed Mr. Evans by using a numerous amount of cruel racial remarks." Yet, no link to the blog, no screenshot, no mention of who posted it or on what site. "Mullen" goes on to to say that Evans would often be the only African American at a given "cyber security conference". "People would look at me sometime like, 'what are you doing here boy', says Evans."
Despite these claims, after 17 years attending Defcon and numerous other conferences of all types and venues, it is extremely rare to see a single African American present. Furthermore, in those 17 years, not once have we heard a racial slur against a black person. We have heard the 'n' word used heavily, but always leveled at white hackers. Curious.
Next, "Mullen" tries to use crafted wording to link two very separate events and blur them into the criticism Evans has received the last thirty days. Evans "believes bloggers are making him a target because of the amount of exposure in the news that he receives", yet these bloggers aren't attacking Dan Kaminsky, arguably the most prolific media whore in the security industry in recent years. Evans thinks that this criticism is further "in addition to the color of his skin" but doesn't qualify "bloggers". The last thirty days of criticism has come from reputable and ethical security professionals that do not resort to racial slurs, certainly not when there is a long list of other traits and actions of Evans to call out. They do "not have a history of verbal abuse with other technology experts" he says, completely forgetting that the Attrition Errata project has a single African American on the Charlatan Page. How can he claim there is some disparity in 'verbal abuse' when we treat all charlatans equally?
As part of Evans' video rebuttal, he spents just over 26 minutes giving his personal history as relates to hacking, full to the brim with timeline discrepancies, factual errors and outright lies. Not once does he address the issue of racism in the latest criticism leveled at his work.
Really Gregory, if you are going to play racial cards, at least play with a full deck.