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The Secret deal between Endgame and HBGary

The “hidden” partnership between Endgame Systems of Alexandria Virginia and HBGary Federal of Sacramento California is one of the worst kept secrets in the business world.  You can probably google it by now.  It would easy to shrug this off as a minor story.  After all, it is hard to keep secrets isn’t it?  So why is this partnership even worth mentioning?

Well, consider this.  These are not just two ordinary companies — they both specialize in security.  Well in that case, you might think that maybe privacy was just not a high priority in this agreement or that it was handled by unqualified underlings.  The problem with these types of theories is that according to Endgame Vice President John M Farrell, the secrecy order came directly from their CEO, Chris Rouland, and even threatened to break up the partnership.

So how did this news get out to the world?  Maybe no information is secure and all is lost for privacy.

Actually, this is not true.  It really doesn’t mean that privacy is dead.  What it does mean is that high-priced security companies are not the experts you might assume.  Both Chris Rouland and (HBGary CEO) Aaron Barr are known for re-packaging free open-source software written by real security experts.  They are little more than re-sellers or middlemen.  The problem is that they don’t realize it.

Chris Rouland once bragged about “cracking” the computer security program called Back Orifice.  Pretty small achievement considering anyone can download the full source for free off the internet.  For his part, Aaron Barr recently boasted about tracking down the real identities of the members of Anonymous — a collection of internet users who like to break into computer systems.

What he actually did was just match IP addresses and incorrectly conclude that a person who visited two suspicious sites in sequence must be a member of this group.  Not terribly original. Or valid, is it turned out. He was hoping to build up hype for his talk at a conference in San Francisco this week.  Instead, he became a laughing stock when Anonymous stole the list from his computer… and revealed it first, to highlight how inaccurate it was.

So you probably don’t have to worry much about privacy — from these two companies, anyway.  Unless you hired one of them, I guess.


Comment from Karl Harshman
Time Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

More detail in this podcast about HBGary Federal:,%20Bank%20of%20America%20Vs%20Real%20Americans&dt=04/16/2011

Comment from Karl Harshman
Time Sunday, April 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

HBGary and the US government work to protect the Bank of America’s bad load strategy. Part 2 is here:

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