Online egos and friendships: How hundreds of classified documents were leaked on Discord | technology

The United States on Thursday arrested the person responsible for a small Discord server, where hundreds of classified documents have been leaked in recent years. It’s a 21-year-old member of the National Guard Intelligence, Jacques Teixeira.

The story of how remote, private chatting dedicated to guns, video games, memes, racist jokes, and small talk between teens is a seed one of the four The biggest intelligence leaks of the twentieth century are very technological and modern. This is what happened:

1- On April 6, A.J The New York Times And the newspaper “Twitter” reported that “secret documents detailing secret US plans appeared on Twitter and Telegram.”

Just three days later, open source intelligence organization Bellingcat revealed the source of the leak. he Washington Post He confirmed it two days later.

2- A handful of leaked documents appeared on April 5 on Russia’s Telegram channel. One was airbrushed to increase the number of Ukrainians killed in a Russian attack.

A few hours earlier, it had been used on 4chan, the popular anonymous site where on other occasions fanatics had posted purported statements before the attack. It is one of the worst places on the internet.

3- They came to 4chan from Discord, a messaging app similar to Slack or Microsoft Teams widely used by young video game enthusiasts. Each user can create a “server”, with chats or channels dedicated to different topics, and can invite whomever they want.

The documents appeared there on March 4, on a server dedicated to the Minecraft video game. In a discussion about the war in Ukraine, one user concluded: “Here’s some documentation.” It was top secret material from the US government. As if in a discussion about Ana Obregon’s son/grandson, someone in a random chat room said, “Here, there she is.” WhatsApp Anna, so you can see.” It would be definitive proof, but even if it looks real, does it?

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4- The origin of the leak is still there. You should have looked in another Discord chat. Bellingcat found it in another group on this app, run by a Filipino YouTuber called wow_mao, whose logo is a yellow image of Mao, and whose videos are long strings of intricate memes. User wow_mao just posted a video explaining his unofficial take on the whole thing: “Leaking classified documents is no fun,” he told his followers, some of whom are trolling enthusiasts. One of the latest wow_mao videos is a compilation of weird spanish memes titled Welcome to Spain.

5- We have already come to the end. Chat member wow_mao who posted dozens of documents now got it from another with only 20 users, led by Teixeira. He called himself the OG. They were all in love with each other YoutubeOxide which was attached to military articles. They met on a larger server and moved to a smaller one for peace of mind. Through conversations with server members, it was known before last Thursday that its leader was a young man in his twenties stationed at a US military base with knowledge of weapons. he times He revealed, according to a member of the chat, that in their last conversation he said to them, “Guys, it was so good, I love you all. I never wanted it to end like this. I prayed to God it never happened.” Teixeira seemed to know the impact of his actions.

6- For this long and bizarre tour of the Internet’s remote bunkers, it might seem like a minor matter. But experts who have seen the documents say this leak is on par with other high-impact leaks recently, such as the Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden leaks. The documents were photos of the originals taken at what appears to be the leaker’s residence (nail clippers and a gaming keyboard can be seen). Before taking these pictures, the leaker explained the contents of the documents to other server members. New York times Find out that a photo was taken in the kitchen of the house where Teixeira lives:

There are two appropriate musings on all of this. The first is that we are always aware of the latest technological developments that will break the cyber security that we know today. Experts and journalists insist on advances such as quantum computing or the existence of 45-character passwords. But there is something more important that we all know and ignore: the weakest link in computer security is the human factor.

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In this case, a suspected US official wanted to reveal his documents to dozens of children. Why? With a mixture of ostentatiousness and an aspiration to venerate the rest of the congregation and convince them that government is overstepping its bounds. That is, he showed secret documents to prove that his government did not do what it said it did, but worse. But he didn’t want to tell everyone, only his chat group mates, who thought he was the smartest. Perhaps it was the fragility of his ego that got the better of him: sometimes he would get angry if others in the group did not follow him in the geopolitical logic he followed with his deep knowledge.

“This guy was a Christian, a pacifist, he just wanted to let some of his friends know what was going on,” he told times One of the server members is 17 years old. “We have some people in our group who are in Ukraine. We like fighting games, we like war games.”

Second reflection: The trust and intimacy we establish with people we only know on the internet is wonderful. This group on Discord had known each other for three or four years and with the pandemic their relationship strengthened. in an essay mail, a member of another chat talking about the leaker as “if he was my uncle” or “father figure”. He also says that when he learned the leaker might be in danger and disappeared, he “cried” because it was like “losing a loved one” and that he would help him in any way he could because he was his “best friend.”

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