The joke’s not on the Legion. It’s on all of us

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14-Dec-2016

 

Until a few days ago, all talk everywhere — from TV channels to newspapers to digital media and social — was about demonetisation. And yet, in the amount of time it would take to get a Rs 2,000 note from an ATM, our attention has switched to a bunch of hacker ‘kids’ who ‘love drugs’ and are hacking email servers for kicks. And, they call themselves Legion.

Open up any Idiot’s guide to Hacking book and you’ll likely find a chapter on ‘Coming up with a cool name’. It probably has Legion among the top recommended names with a little pro-tip that says “F Society is trending these days too thanks to Mr Robot.”

hackingfordummies

It’s not fair to give them grief over the name. After all, they are the cyber-warriors. They must be busy tunnelling through code and seeking exploits. Unleashing digital “anarchy” on unsuspecting masses is hard work.

It may be just one guy, one woman or a network of hundreds. They could be located in India, Russia or Eastern Europe. Hell, they could even be in Pakistan. Or, Koramangala  

And then there is all the PR to handle. For a group with no agenda — they claim they have none and are simply anarchists — they sure do seem to love the media. They are doing interviews on email (they did one with Factordaily) and having phone conversations with digital media companies (here’s an interview with Quint). Talk shows over ‘Koffee’ with assorted hosts next? To be sure, we’re putting in a request too.

Given the reams (pixels?) the Indian and world media spent covering them, let’s list down what we really know about them:

  • They call themselves Legion
  • They’ve hacked into some email servers
  • They love giving exclusives

That’s it.

It may be just one guy, one woman or a network of hundreds. They could be located in India, Russia or Eastern Europe (we think they’re right here under our noses, though). Hell, they could even be in Pakistan. Or, Koramangala (Bangalore).

Or, maybe there is no Legion. It could be artificial intelligence  —  bots with brains — we’re dealing with. Just think about it. Their interviews have been generic enough. Look at this little gem from the interview they gave FactorDaily: “Hackers love drugs  —  mind expanding drugs.” Who talks in generics like that about themselves?

Perhaps, they are not potheads, they’re botheads.

Who is to say that an errant bot isn’t celebrating its new-found sentience with mayhem? Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead here  

It isn’t hard to sound like you’re clued into Indian politics — the Legion certainly is. There’s enough data on Twitter for anyone to parse and spew India-specific content. In any case, it looks like all they are echoing are troll-worthy sentiments. Then, there is that awkward phone call in a weird voice. Google’s Deepmind is creating some of the most realistic human voices. I am just saying.

Who is to say that an errant bot isn’t celebrating its new-found sentience with mayhem? Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead here.

Could the ultimate purpose of these hacks be the act itself and what’s happening around it  

I realise that it’s all highly improbable.

But what about this: Could the ultimate purpose of these hacks be the act itself and what’s happening around it? Overnight, Legion has become a sensation with hungry digital consumers following every leak, the media falling head-over-heels trying to get crumbs from them and then reporting any information they’re doling out in bits and pieces.

Even if the Legion may not have intended it to be so, their act could be the a satirical art of our times  —  our own Black Mirror moment.

The joke’s not on the Legion, it’s on us all.



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