Trolling: The Dark Side Of The Lulz

In this article which I didn’t finish posting in the middle of class, I’m going to be talking about trolling. Not the “lol u mad” trolling, but the type of trolling that goes way too far.

Leo Traynor is a blogger and a crossword writer. Not a name most of you will have heard of, but he’s Irish so he has a sweet Brogue. Anyway, he had a Twitter account and he would follow people who followed him. As soon as he started following a particular account, he starting getting DMs full of ethnic slurs. He blocked the account in question and moved on, which is the proper way to deal with trolls. Next week, a new account follows him. He follows back and immediately starts getting DMs full of insults and slurs. Again, block and move on. This progressively increased to two to three times a week to two to three times a day. Eventually, he set his Twitter account private. Then the troll moved on to Facebook and email.

The troll hacked his Facebook and blog and started sending emails full of slurs and shock images to him, the highlight being pictures from concentration camps (Leo and his family are Jewish). He didn’t let it get to him, which is the proper way to deal with trolls. He didn’t tell his wife, but why burden someone you love with issues they can’t do anything to fix.

But then Leo’s wife joined Twitter. And she was spammed and trolled in a similar manner. She laughed it off and just blocked the troll, eventually setting her account private and not accepting new followers. But she got a torrent of abuse one day that scared her off Twitter for good.

The troll kept going and Leo just blocked it and moved on, which is the proper way to deal with trolls. I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story to you, but let’s just say it got insanely worse.

Now, how is this related to cyber security? At first glance, it’s really not. But there is a big relation to Cyber Security in this story: the human factor is again at play. The target was systematically tortured and terrorized to the point where he couldn’t sleep at night out of fear for his life. Leo wasn’t a guy with major security connections; he is a crossword writer and a blogger. Imagine being the target of trolling so bad you have a full-on breakdown. It’s horrific. No one deserves that, save the people who initiate it. Imagine he was the security specialist for a company. Imagine your security specialist going through a paranoid breakdown. You find the weakest link and slowly wear away at it, soon you’ll have a hole. Leo was small fry, imagine if he was a much higher target and had more attackers.

Imagine if you were the target of this.



5 thoughts on “Trolling: The Dark Side Of The Lulz

  1. This sounds like a very aggressive form of social engineering. It seems like it could also be effective even if you don’t connect it to the cyber world.

  2. I feel like this falls more into the field of cyber bullying rather than social engineering. It’s pretty ridiculous the lengths some people will go.

  3. I agree, but with the intimidation couldn’t the victim be forced to give up passwords to ensure the safety of his family? With such threats flying around it sounds like both bullying and social engineering.

  4. I don’t know if it’s only me, but I truly don’t understand trolls. To me it’s just soft-core stalking, especially what this guy did. I don’t really view this particular example as social engineering, because the troll’er’ was simply harassing the troll’ee’, essentially cyber bullying, like @jaredstroud pointed out. My understanding of trolls to the side, what this guy did was wrong, I’m glad it stopped, but it never should have started.

  5. It’s really creepy that this troll just wouldn’t give up. Even if he was being ignored and blocked, he just wouldn’t stop doing malicious things to the target. I feel really bad for the target, considering that he randomly got the attention of some guy that had nothing better to do with his life than to try and ruin somebody else’s, and the fact that he couldn’t shake the guy off of him really sucks.

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