Meet the 16-Year-Old Girl Who Hacked HBGary

Kayla, 16, works part-time at a salon, spends lots of her time hanging out with friends and hopes to become a teacher. But she is also a supporter of Anonymous, the hacking group that, defending WikiLeaks and its leader, Julian Assange, brought down the websites of major credit card companies and a software security firm.

Kayla flits around the web with so covert an identity that I cannot fully verify her age or gender.

Still, the girl known on chat forums as 'k, and who spoke to me by e-mail as "Kayla," is no figment of the Internet's imagination: she helped all but destroy a company. When Aaron Barr, the now-former CEO of software security firm HBGary Federal, claimed in a press report that he could identify members of the Anonymous collective through social media, she and four other hackers broke into his company's servers in revenge, defacing his Web site, purging data and posting more than 50,000 of his emails online for the world to see, all within the space of 24 hours.

Kayla played a crucial role, posing as Barr to an IT administrator (who happened to be Nokia security specialist Jussi Jaakonaho) to gain access to the company's servers. Read their email correspondence here and here. In the fallout, Barr's emails revealed HBGary had proposed a dirty tricks campaign against WikiLeaks to a law firm representing Bank of America. Other security firms distanced themselves. Kayla and her buddies had opened a can of worms.

Today while HBGary picks up the pieces, Kayla still spends a few hours a night on Anonymous chat channels looking for her next target. Most recently it was the Libyan government, helping get information to Libyan citizens in the Internet blackout.

Read the full story at Forbes.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Technology

Just In