He's hacked newspapers and planted fake stories to change the outcomes of wars. He's knocked countless jihadist and otherwise extremist websites offline. He recently took over the website of the Westboro Baptist Church, mocking its recent celebration of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma by posting a picture of Jesus giving the middle finger and rerouting visitors to a Red Cross donation site. He was the guy who knocked Wikileaks offline.
And all we really seem to know for sure about him is that he's a "he." And likely ex-military. And although he may frequent encrypted chat rooms, he does indeed use Twitter
Call him "The Jester."
In this fascinating Daily Beast article
, author Michael Moynihan emits a quiet "psssst," as we pass by, inviting us to walk with him down a looming dark alley lined with the latest tricks of the cyber warfare trade. All the while, we are treated to insights from The Jester, a true cyber-vigilante. Akin to a digital Batman of sorts, The Jester says he works alone, but it seems his work slants toward protecting American interests. Even so, his cyberwar handiwork ascends to a level only expected of "intelligence agencies or crime syndicates," according to one security analyst.
The Jester's accomplishments are examples of casualties on what he considers to be a new virtual battlefield, where "laptops will someday replace M-16s as the primary tool of warfare."
The Jester isn't the only one, of course.
There's the hacker collective Anonymous
, to which The Jester is decidedly not aligned (he published names of hackers affiliated with Anonymous, and takes a bit of credit for their subsequent arrests). And of course, there's the cyber-activity of the extremist groups The Jester has digitally pummeled, and others.
Moynihan's article points out that opportunities are growing for private businesses to gain financially from cyberwar, and they are taking advantage. What's more, cyber-security laws are not yet as strong as they could be (or should be, depending on your stance on this issue), which means both one-man-shows like The Jester, as well as profit-seekers with the right expertise, can benefit.
“Cyberspace is fast becoming a serious battle space, everyone is now taking notice, and I am proud to be on the right side of things (kinda)," The Jester told Moynihan.
What a telling statement, indeed.
What do you think of technology as the newest war frontier? Do you applaud the work of hackers like The Jester, or condemn them?