As political parties, bank managers, and drug dealers have often found to their cost, infiltrators can be very hard to detect.
This is something that, perhaps, the members of Anonymous recently discovered for themselves, at least according to Symantec, the online security people.
For the company believes that members of the hacking collective were deceived into downloading a Zeus Trojan that gave up their banking details and other personal information.
On its blog, Symantec described how, on January 20--the day of the rather charming Kim Dotcom's sequestration by the FBI--members of Anonymous used their own personal computers to participate in DDoS attacks.
These were launched against a broad and institutional swathe of targets, such as the Recording Industry Association of America and the FBI.
Some mean-spirited--and still anonymous--individual allegedly inserted a Zeus Trojan into the Slowloris attack tool, of which many DDoS-ers are fond.
When members of Anonymous downloaded this tool, their banking details were apparently exposed like boxer shorts above low-slung pants and sent to a remote server.
I am grateful to MSNBC for discovering Symantec's troubling analysis.
However, Anonymous seems to have unloaded its own feelings about it.
For, on the YourAnonNews Twitter feed, there was posted a fierce rebuttal: "This post from @Symantec about @YourAnonNews's spreading the DDOS hijacking trojan is wrong & libelous to say the least http://goo.gl/MUVxD."
The following tweet read: "Dear @Symantec - @YourAnonNews NEVER posted the DDOS hijacker nor did we attempt to trick people; instead we WARNED of it."
And a third offered: "Also, @Symantec - maybe if you paid attention to more details and did proper due diligence, your source code wouldn't have been stolen. SMH."
Some will chortle with schadenfreude that the hackers may have themselves been hacked. But doesn't this tale, if true, offer something greater--and something sadder--about the brittleness of human trust?
In Anonymous' case, one assumes that many of its members have never met in person. Their relationship is guided entirely by their ability to trust through gadget-based means.
It is the equivalent of trying to find a lover online and only ever having dates with them online. You can't so easily look them in the eyes and see if their facial expressions and body movements betray their true thoughts. Skype doesn't quite deliver the same chance of interpreting human nuance.
Whenever you're trying to collectively build something--or even collectively trying to destroy something--a twisted being will soon waft into your day, pretend they're on your side, and then try to ruin things.