AntiOnline crosses the Line


John Vranesevich is the founder of AntiOnline [].
During the past five years, AO has grown from a five megabyte hobby web site, into a
multi domain business venture with hundreds of thousands of dollars in venture
capital. AntiOnline now claims to be the number one security resource on Internet. 
Despite this growth and development, AntiOnline has been under continual fire from 
critics and friends alike. Serious questions have been raised to the methods of reporting, 
staff background, journalistic integrity and business practice.

Since AntiOnline has become a commercial entity (02-22-99), the site has released 
67 pieces (some news articles, some 'specials'). Of these, 12 have been found to 
contain serious errata. So of the 'reporting' that AntiOnline 
has conducted, close to 20% has been inaccurate.

Recently, information has come to light that suggests a far more serious agenda
exists at AntiOnline. In the past, AntiOnline had two incidents that brought them
into the spotlight, and put them on a journalistic pedestal so to speak. 

The first was centered around two teenagers in Cloverdale CA, and one adult in Israel that
was known as "Analyzer". AntiOnline got the scoop that these three (and others) were
responsible for compromising hundreds of military and government servers.
Through repeated interviews and communication, AntiOnline managed to hype up these
attacks which lead to them being described as "the most organized and systematic 
attack the Pentagon has seen to date." A short while later, it was discovered that
this threat was nothing more than a group of mostly teenagers breaking into low
security machines.(1)

The second spotlight shone on AntiOnline after several exclusive stories and interviews
with a group calling themselves "The Masters of Downloading". AntiOnline reported
that the members of this group were responsible for compromising hundreds of
"high security" Department of Defense computer systems, and stealing
files they said were "obtained from the classified Defense Information System 
Network." Interviews between AntiOnline and the cracker said "I think international
terrorist groups would be interested in the data we could gain access to.."

Media outlets such as ZDNet unknowingly drew comparisons in the two stories. 
ZDnet said in one article(2) "The alleged hack - which follows a highly publicized
attack on Pentagon computers by an Israeli hacker known as the "Analyzer" and his
associates -- would be a major escalation of "informational warfare" on
government computers."

From all appearances, AntiOnline was single handedly responsible for a significant 
amount of the media sensationalism. Not only had AntiOnline driven the media hype
behind the stories, they put various government and DOD organizations on full
alert preparing for the fallout these attacks would cause.

There is new information coming to light suggests that AntiOnline had a more integral
part in the generation of their news. That the typical journalist/contact relationship
did not exist, and in fact, AntiOnline may have been responsible for creating some
of the news to report on.

With these recent allegations coming to light, the ATTRITION staff and several
associates set out to find out the details and foundations of the assertions.

OUR GOAL: To prove Masters of Downloading (MOD, headed by a hacker named so1o) was paid by John Vranesevich/AntiOnline to hack or another high profile site in order for AntiOnline to break major news. To further establish that AntiOnline employs active and potentially malicious hackers.
REQUIREMENT: To prove this, we must first prove several points. allegation evidence ---------- -------- so1o had business relationship with AO proof.1 (Email) so1o == Chris McNab proof.2 (Email) so1o is an MOD member proof.3 (Comparison of MOD/CZ hacks) proof.5 (IRC chat with so1o) AO reported on it first proof.4 (AntiOnline reports)
ADDITIONAL: On June 3rd, 1999, John Vranesevich released an editorial titled "State of the Union". This piece calls into question the true relationship between Mr. Vranesevich and Chris McNab (a.k.a. so1o). The relevant text and concern it raises, coupled with the time of this editorial and subsequent information presents a more damning argument. On June 4th, 1999, John Vranesevich released a more dramatic and disturbing editorial titled A Change in Our Mission. To most of his readers, this was no doubt surprising, but expected. For a smaller group of us, the timing of this article suggests much more. On the afternoon of June 3rd, an individual questioned Mr. Vranesevich about his ties to so1o. When challenged, Vranesevich begins to deny his involvement with McNab. This denial comes after mail explicitly stating he WAS funding McNab, and after working with McNab on an AntiOnline "exclusive" on the MOD hacks. The following log and comments illustrate the denial and further backs our goal.
CONCLUSION: One would hope that high ethical standards are above the law and are in effect with ANY media outlet. It seems that isn't true. Not only has AntiOnline descended into the realm of unethical journalism and business practice, they have done it while thumbing their nose at the Internet. As if they can commit these practices with impunity, John Vranesevich taunts "Well, it would take a lot more than an act of congress to get AntiOnline shut down =) I could always ship the site off to England ;-) That's another good thing about the Internet. The laws of one land don't hold true in them all ;-)". This was written as a reply to one comment in the AntiOnline mailbag on 7-13-98. As if this is not bad enough, Vranesevich has recently gone on to admit to some of his deeds. In a "change of mission statement" released on 6.4.99, he goes on to say "Many times, I knew about these instances before hand, and could have stopped them." The information presented above is more than adequate proof that John Vranesevich is funding an active hacker to break into high profile sites. The motivation for this is to increase the awareness and therefore the profitability of his web site AntiOnline. He pays people to break into sites in order to report on it as an 'exclusive'. Folks.. 1 + 1 still = 2. Direct comments or questions to: staff * Any instance of [snip...] is strictly removing unrelated material. Anything relevant to our argument or anything that would affect our allegations were left. What we do is no different than what JP does to his 'mailbag'. Except we leave in material that would possibly weaken our argument. His mailbag gets clipped to include only the material he wants to deal with. * Permission from Bronc and Ken was given to include the email here.