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How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price.

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CEO of HBGary vs Anonymous

Aaron Barr believed he had penetrated Anonymous. The loose hacker collective had been responsible for everything from anti-Scientology protests to pro-Wikileaks attacks on MasterCard and Visa, and the FBI was now after them. But matching their online identities to real-world names and locations proved daunting. Barr found a way to crack the code.

In a private e-mail to a colleague at his security firm HBGary Federal, which sells digital tools to the US government, the CEO bragged about his research project.

"They think I have nothing but a heirarchy based on IRC [Internet Relay Chat] aliases!" he wrote. "As 1337 as these guys are suppsed to be they don't get it. I have pwned them! :)"

But had he? "We are kind of pissed at him right now"

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Adam Goldstein: I know the fallout from this keeps going and going and going! Serves Aaron Barr right, but I feel sorry for the workers at HBGary and HBGary Federal who had nothing to do with this, yet got scapegoated by the companies in an effort to appease Anonymous.