Barry Schlossberg, aka Gary Bresslin, aka "Lou Cipher"

Corporate Vigilante

Barry's notoriety stems from wild claims that he and his team at an unnamed company practiced vigilante justice against hackers that attacked his network. The story goes that his team would monitor the attack, track the attacker back to their home location and pay them a visit. Not only would they supposedly knock on the door to intimidate the person, they would do so with weapons and inflict damage to the person. Such actions are clearly illegal and certainly not a justified response to a computer crime. Worse, hearing Schlossberg tell the stories, according to sources that did, he did so with a certain enjoyment and glee that would scare emotionally balanced listeners.

Background: Through three news articles from Network World (linked below with commentary from years ago) and one survey, the world was introduced to "Lou Cipher":

Days after the initial article was published, Rob Rosenberger of Vmyths wrote a lengthy rebuttal titled "First let's kill all the virus writers" that challenged the survey and claims. This single colorful character, Lou Cipher, along with articles from two authors both writing for Network World were the only sources for the story or validation of the person. There were no witnesses, no sources (even anonymous) and absolutely no details to validate any of the claims. It was common knowledge at the time among many security professionals that Schwartau and Cipher were friends. Schwartau's article, with the knowledge of their relationship, had an extra sense of credibility. When a second journalist, Mark Gibbs, entered the picture, it made many people consider the claims valid. Surely a full-time journalist with IDG / Network World would have validated enough of the claims before going to print?

Ten years later, after Schlossberg contacted, we asked him directly: "Will you go on record confirming or denying that you participated in vigilante activity as outlined in the [articles]?" Schlossberg responded:

William aka Winn always knew that most of what he wrote were based on hyperboles and metaphors. He misquoted starting with I was a senior financial manager, not true, as well as the baseball bat was a metaphor, His reporting and or stories were spun for sensationalism. Mark Gibbs was met and chatted with at Comdex, introduced by Winn, the total conversation was 5 minutes.

Without reservation there no illegal physical acts committed on US soil. Do I believe in strike back, yes, but I think one must understand the realization of what jurisdiction one is in.

If Schlossberg's statement to us is accurate, then the entire saga "is much ado about nothing" as he says. It would mean that Schwartau fabricated the story including direct quotes and that Gibbs apparently did not perform any type of due diligence before publishing his article.

We leave it up to the reader to decide which parties to believe.

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