Hi. We’re Southfork Security. We’re being sued in an effort to squash our open source and free software network awareness tool. We’re not going to let that happen without a fight.
Over the past six months, we -- that’s me, Corey Thuen, and my co-developer, Kris Watts -- wrote a little visualization, fingerprinting, and whitelisting tool called Visdom. It’s designed to work with critical infrastructure, and it’s open source and free software. Open source means our source code is publicly available for anyone to view and download. That source is very clearly not based on the government code we’re accused of stealing: the program we’re accused of taking, is written in C. Visdom is in JS/HTML5 and Go.
Which is why we were surprised, last week, to find out that Battelle had gotten an ex parte injunction based on the allegation that it was literally code stolen from Idaho National Laboratory. They implied that we were hackers (which we are!) but didn’t mention that we’re hackers employed to keep critical infrastructure secure. That "hacker" implication was an important entry of the injunction.
We’re the good guys. We look at a system which might be insecure, we try to find the ways in which someone might break it, and then we find a way to fix it. Battelle likely knew that. But for some reason, they chose not to disclose that to the judge, and the judge, acting on limited information, decided to order the inspection and imaging of my hard drives to prevent me from destroying evidence (something I would never do).
Here’s the part where we ask you for money:
We’re a small business -- just a two-man shop. And although we’re in the right, we can’t afford to defend ourselves against a government contractor Battelle’s size. So we need either your money, or we need help spreading the word, to present a defense against an egregious attack on our civil liberties, and (just as importantly) to keep our software open, available to the public, and useful for keeping our critical infrastructure secure. The whole open-source movement depends on the ability of open-source developers to defend themselves against litigious bullying like this, and “giving software away for free” isn’t exactly conducive to covering the five or six-digit sums involved.
We’re asking for your help to cover some of the costs. Which, to be honest, we don’t have a good grasp on yet, other than that we’ve racked up a five-figure lawyer bill fighting this injunction, and that the general consensus among knowledgeable people we’ve talked to is that Battelle intends to fight us until we’re broke. So we think it’s pretty fair, for this first round of fundraising, to ask you for $80,000.
That’s ten bucks from eight thousand people. We think we can do that.
I don’t know if we’ll need that much, and with the way things have gone so far, we might need more. If we do, we’ll pass the hat again. In the event that we need less, we’ll send everything that’s left over to the EFF, to make sure that the next time this happens, the next person gets the same chance you’re offering us today.
Thanks for your support. We’ll keep you updated on Twitter and Google+ as well as our website (links below.)
Media stories on the matter: