Hello, /r/IAmA! I am the originator of the Internet Hate Machine that took the world by storm in 2007-2008. This was confirmed the other day by Gregg Housh.

I have "come out of retirement" in service of dealing with the current QAnon menace warping minds around the world.

In the process, I am working closely with forensic researchers and journalists. Most recently, I collaborated with Mother Jones on a piece covering Jim Watkins' past business.

And lastly, for the piece that revealed my identity to the world, you may read this article published in The Atlantic on August 11 earlier this year.

I am also the founder of 420chan, one of the oldest living imageboards still in operation today.

Ask me Anything.

edit: This is probably going to take a while :)

edit 2: 3 hours in, do not worry, I intend to be here for a very, very long time. I know everyone is going to have so many questions.

edit 3: by "very long time" I literally mean days.


edit 5: ok i need to take a nap i will return you really have no idea how much your support means

edit 6: morning folks that was one long hard nap

edit 7: in response to the trolls attempting to brigade -

edit 8: to further clarify, there was also some suspicious timing of vote manipulation beginning in this AMA that kicked off the moment I outright said "Fuck Scientology" and /u/greggh stated that he was the one that took all the heat. I have a gut feeling there is a coordinated smear attempt right now fuelled by that

One more for good measure:


Comments: 9025 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

Sun_wk5557 karma

Hi Aubrey,

What do you consider the most common internet security mistake that people make to be?

Kirtaner-420chan7920 karma

Weak and re-used passwords.

supermaja1061 karma

How do you recommend we store passwords? I don't trust password-savers online bc I don't know enough about online security to have an opinion, and my default is to not trust.

Also, what online computer security sources provide safe, reliable recommendations? I'm literate in using a computer, but I don't code, but security is very important to me. Thanks!

Kirtaner-420chan2587 karma

Use an offline password vault like 1Password or Keepass. Don't install the browser extensions. Use a solid "master password".

Zer0Summoner5412 karma

How do you feel about the fact that, predictably, half of Anonymous turned out to be informants?

Kirtaner-420chan6397 karma

It's just part of the game, I suppose. Not really much to say here.

Kids, learn some fucking OpSec.

cannaeoflife5238 karma

What issues would you like to see the next generation of hacktivists tackle?

Kirtaner-420chan9785 karma

Privacy rights, big data, monolithic megacorporations owning everything about you and your life.

BootyChedder2617 karma

Are you secretly mr. Robot?

Kirtaner-420chan4592 karma

Tell Sam Esmail to return my calls.

Lodi0831604 karma

What's up with those apps that give you money to see your grocery list? My friend does it and it seems so sketchy. Like there's gotta be a catch.

Kirtaner-420chan1641 karma

You are the product.

lokedog10204878 karma

Was anonymous really responsible for draining the ink from the Scientology headquarter’s printers by making them print thousands of black pages? Also, fuck Scientology.

Kirtaner-420chan6904 karma


Fuck Scientology.

badboy500874376 karma

What is your opinion on Edward Snowden?

Kirtaner-420chan8585 karma


SpicaVir4307 karma


You mentioned weak and reused passwords as most comon problem...

What do you thing about password managers? Are they secure and safe?

Kirtaner-420chan7268 karma

Yes. Keepass, 1password, any such password manager. Highly recommended.

greggh3480 karma

If any more proof is needed, and if this counts towards that. You can see pretty clearly that I am the main moderator of /r/Anonymous and Aubrey is indeed OG Anon.

Kirtaner-420chan2885 karma

Thanks for looking out for me all these years.

ChainBuddy3066 karma

Have you forgiven those who sold you all out to the FBI?

Kirtaner-420chan4368 karma

I have... somewhat. Others probably never will. And they have every reason to feel that way.

I couldn't hold onto the past like that if I were to move forward.

0nkk2862 karma

What do You do for a living nowadays?

Kirtaner-420chan6907 karma

Mostly contract work for software engineering. Though for the last several months my one and only focus has been on QAnon. I more or less abandoned everything I was doing for this.

I'm also prototyping an infosec buttplug.

Therm0ptic1351 karma

What's it called?

Kirtaner-420chan5831 karma

The Anal Phisher.

Aydnie2327 karma

Why does Anonymous doesnt seem to appear as much powerful today as they seemed to be 10 years ago ?

Kirtaner-420chan4148 karma

Everyone went to jail or went into hiding after "he who shall not be named" ruined it all.

teriyakigirl1069 karma

Holy shit this AMA is the coolest thing ever

Kirtaner-420chan1423 karma

The feeling is mutual.

SinZationn948 karma

Also interested in this question. Care to elaborate?

Kirtaner-420chan550 karma


kaneabel165 karma

Chris Benoit

Kirtaner-420chan201 karma

Diving headbutt.

Cronoghost2294 karma

Are you still considered Anonymous?

Kirtaner-420chan3177 karma

Anonymous is for life.

infinitum171126 karma

but like, now we all know you who are, so...onymous?

nonnamous1676 karma

Checking in

Kirtaner-420chan525 karma

oh shit

Conarius2279 karma

A rather simple question: Are you proud of what Anonymous has become and what it has done up until now?

Kirtaner-420chan2804 karma

I couldn't possibly be more proud.

rabble11838 karma

proud of who?

Kirtaner-420chan1891 karma

Anomalus. We eat legumes!

Burgles_McGee1189 karma

You should name your infosec buttplug AnonAnus

Kirtaner-420chan1087 karma

ButtSec presents the Anal Phisher.

meanlizlemon2273 karma

Hi Aubrey. Maybe this is a bit of a simply question.. But do people underestimate the dangers of social media security?

Kirtaner-420chan4282 karma

They absolutely do. People don't understand that even outside of open discussions, metadata sourced from people's "social webs" can paint a fairly vivid picture of their relationships, friendships, general interests. That's just one single thing. Geolocation data, photo metadata, all of these things can be used to map out one's life.

Also, if you aren't using 2FA on every internet account you have, well, you should start.

AprilTowers2171 karma

What’s the most fucked up information you personally found?

Kirtaner-420chan3111 karma

Pedo shit.

Oh________________No1006 karma

Can’t get much more fucked up than that

Kirtaner-420chan887 karma

And I found some again only a few weeks ago, too. As noted in the OP.

AdministrativeLie52152 karma

Why are you doing this here, instead of your own site or other Anonymous site?

Kirtaner-420chan3170 karma

They don't give a fuck. Irony.

Asbadeesh2083 karma

How did you get the idea to start anonymous? Did it come naturally?

Kirtaner-420chan2523 karma

Yeah, things just kind of "took off" and boy did we ever run with it.

SirZacharia2064 karma

Okay but can you explain buttsec to me?

Kirtaner-420chan5978 karma

Butt Security is an information security group dedicated to protecting your sensitive assets from deep penetration.

juetron1924 karma

If the upcoming election is hacked and results are manipulated, how will we know?

Kirtaner-420chan5432 karma

I don't think there's an answer to this question, and trust me I wish I had one.

All I can stress to you is this:

Get the fuck out there and vote.

edave221816 karma

I remember back in 2011 Anonymous was infiltrated by an FBI informant which led to the arrest to some members after the attack on PayPal. One suspects name was redacted by the court and never explained why.

Are you able to shed any more light on this event?

Kirtaner-420chan2769 karma

Do you refer to the PayPal 13? If so, they were a minor.

The_one_that_listens1803 karma

Hey Aubrey,

Do you regret anything that anonymous did, and if so, how would you do things differently in hindsight?

Kirtaner-420chan2564 karma

Epilepsy Foundation. I don't want to get into that whole debacle.

I would have accepted the wider activist front that Housh pushed forward. He basically protected me for a long time, not discussing me with press, and I thank him for that.

Mahiep1431 karma

Hi Aubrey, I remember meeting you around 5 years ago while waiting in line for some amiibos and not knowing that you were THE Aubrey Cottle! I was wondering how you felt about the media’s representation of Anonymous over these past several years. And on another note, how are you doing?

Kirtaner-420chan1683 karma

Haha! Oh man. Yeah I'm getting this reaction a lot.

I've been up and down. Life. You know. I'm working on PTSD stuff.

I should probably get around to sorting out my Amiibo collection one of these days.

I've always found it hilarious how the media has represented Anonymous as a whole.

99NamesOfHastur1328 karma

Why haven't the Scientologists had their revenge on you yet?

greggh1712 karma

They took it out on me.

Kirtaner-420chan1145 karma


uselessscientist1204 karma

What steps do you think can be reasonably taken to stamp out the crap that is Qanon? It's definitely bigger than Watkins, and can be easily coopted

Kirtaner-420chan2116 karma

Pulling the mask off the charlatans crafting this out-of-control ARG gone wrong.

Wiping out as much of their presence as possible on social networks and deplatforming them.

KnowButtholeKnowCare1149 karma

What is the largest project Anonymous has taken on?

Kirtaner-420chan1472 karma

The big two that come to mind are Project Chanology and Operation #AntiSec

nathanzo1119 karma

Hollywood is probably gonna call at some point; who would you like to be played by in ‘Anonymous: The Movie’? EDIT: spelling

Kirtaner-420chan1763 karma

Jonny Lee Miller. I don't care how old he looks.

RestForMySoul1111 karma


Kirtaner-420chan1063 karma

Oh my god I am so sorry. Holy shit. That's a heavy question.

If you contact me I can put you in touch with someone who can better help you here.

Stay strong.

Weeman891092 karma

Is there a Mrs Cottle?

Kirtaner-420chan1684 karma

A former Anonymous partner in crime, Spardot.

marpley1128 karma

You’ve got to be shitting me. Are you serious? That’s amazing, I used to chat with you guys a ton in the late 2000s. Thanks for the great memories! I hope you both are happy and healthy!

Kirtaner-420chan748 karma


Errwick1076 karma

Hi Aubrey, I’m interested in learning more about cybersecurity, etc., are there any books/resources you can recommend?? Thanks

Kirtaner-420chan2004 karma

I've been recommending the following resource to people.

deveynull2165 karma

Hey Aubrey, that's one of my free courses!!! Glad to hear you like it!!!

For anyone who is trying to break into security, our free flagship course is It's the best self-paced intro to computing fundamentals on the internet, bar none. We assume no technical knowledge and help you every step of the way. We also have a course on security, with many more being developed.

In a twist of irony, one of the primary inspirations for my site was I wanted a healthy, safe place on the internet for people to step into this field. When I was coming up it was Hackforums, Twitter, and anon IRCs, and I knew there was a better way. I'm in the Navy these days but my site is still dedicated to the memories of Aaron Swartz and Bassel Khartabil.

Can't forget my roots, and I'm honored that Roppers will be a place that the next generation will learn the skills they need to change the world.

Kirtaner-420chan819 karma

You actually produced such a good resource that I was able to put the Insurgency Wiki revamp on the lower priority list.

yttri_inpri4phni1030 karma

/u/kirtaner-420chan, thank you for doing this AMA.

I have a copy of the book "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy - The Many Faces of Anonymous" by Gabriella Coleman. Have you read it, and if so, was there anything in it that you disagreed with, thought the author got wrong, or think needs clarification or other input?

Full disclosure, I haven't read the book yet, but I'll keep any feedback of yours in mind when I do.

If you haven't read it, I could mail you my copy. If it's not garbage I'd be thrilled to get it back with a signature in it, but no pressure whatsoever.

Kirtaner-420chan1550 karma

Gabriella Coleman is a wonderful person and has been my confidant for the last several months discussing my life and history.

Her book and wider work is highly recommended.

I would love to do that for you if you like. Contact me later.

crowbit1009 karma

Sup brotha, Do you use privacy tokens and if so which ones ?

Kirtaner-420chan1222 karma


watabagal309 karma

What keeps you with monero compared to other tech

Kirtaner-420chan483 karma

I don't dabble much in the crypto space due to it's volatile nature and stick to known and solid solutions.

tlarcombe967 karma

What is your proudest moment?

Kirtaner-420chan2306 karma

When I came to terms with my legacy and realized how much of an inspiration we were for the entire InfoSec and activist world.

It took a long time to really process and think about, I was hidden in the open for so long and felt bitter towards Anonymous for a number of years after my "departure" and as time went on, I had become so buried that nobody would believe me when I tried to open up about the past. You can imagine why. I was getting more and more depressed and had I not found people who would actually listen to me and validate what I was claiming, well, I can just say I was fairly close to committing suicide.

Waynker87637 karma

This sounds like a bad case of PTSD, I hope you found the help you needed. Just the way you described the last part I can relate to.

Kirtaner-420chan1061 karma

I gained the nickname Mr. Robot when working at Ericsson in 2017. This made me start nervously hiding and working in empty meeting rooms. It was getting that bad for me.

BrandyWilson895 karma

Hi Aubrey, As a person with little to no knowledge of computing etc, is there anyway myself and others with no tech background can assist Anonymous?

Kirtaner-420chan1595 karma

Yes. Anonymous has all walks of life. The most infamous is, obviously, the hacker type, but just as important are the ones that mobilize online and spread awareness, do research, and collaborate in that manner.

If you have a voice, you can help Anonymous.

Astraeas_Vanguard857 karma

What is the end goal of Anonymous?

Kirtaner-420chan2822 karma

Right now my only end-goal is bringing the QAnon game to a conclusion.

deckard58744 karma

When did you realize that 4chan culture was becoming real-world dangerous?

The stuff you did in the '00s (4chan invasions) was fun for many but could also be pretty mean; knowing what we know now, do you think that "it's the Internet, not the real world" was really tenable even then?

Kirtaner-420chan1140 karma

GamerGate in 2014 was the wake-up call.

And no. Over time many of us realized the barrier between the Internet and the real world was more tenuous than most people insisted.

AwkwardStoryActually677 karma

Hi Aubrey, which country has the most active members of Anonymous?

Kirtaner-420chan1453 karma

In the past? The US.

Now? Hard to be sure. It's not like I can pull out a big ol' binder here with a list of membership. :)

Radikost636 karma

Why did you choose the Guy Fawkes mask as a representation?

What was your biggest accomplishment in hacking?

Why did you start this „project”?

Kirtaner-420chan796 karma

Epic Fail Guy.

No comment. As far as "publicly known" things, probably my most fun heist was redirecting Hal Turner's domain names to 420chan.

It... sort of just happened naturally.

jdino607 karma

A very not serious question:

How do you feel about the movie Hackers?

It’s my favorite movie ever and I can basically go word for word with the script haha.

Kirtaner-420chan1158 karma

Dude that movie was my childhood bible.

Halcyon + On + On is my favorite song.


greggh575 karma

Can you bring back Snacks?!

Kirtaner-420chan708 karma

Snacks is doing his whole DJ thing now but, hey, "Around Snacks, Never Relax".

ENFJPLinguaphile534 karma

Hi! What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career so far and how do you think that will apply to your future endeavors? Thanks, Aubrey!

Kirtaner-420chan1455 karma

Your only limitation is your willingness to independently learn and experiment.

I am 100% self-taught.

vasserr526 karma

How many cats are lounging around your office at the moment?

Kirtaner-420chan1630 karma

Three. We have 6 cats, a dog, and have fostered and socialized feral kittens for years.

If you've adopted a kitten in the Toronto area, there is a chance you have one of our precious furballs. We have adopted out close to 400 kittens via "Toronto Cat Rescue" and "Action Volunteers for Animals".

TheDandyWarhol523 karma

Can I give you my real name and you wipe out my medical debt? Jk, I love your groups passion.

Kirtaner-420chan568 karma


I wish. ;)

Donutnipple500 karma

Did you record any of the Anonymous videos? Like, the ones with the mask and distorted voice?

Kirtaner-420chan623 karma

I was involved with planning this. The first Anonymous video.

gencoloji471 karma

Which messenger for phone do you prefer the most, when it comes to security and privacy?

Which VPN do you prefer?

Do you think the world is evolving in a positive way, when it comes to A. I., social media, digital technology, etc.?

Kirtaner-420chan750 karma

Signal, Wire, Matrix.


I think we need to be paying very, very close attention to the work in the A.I. space because we are on the horizon of the information singularity and *that is some terrifying shit*

ftg2468459 karma

WOW I can’t believe you’re actually answering questions here. What are your thoughts on Trump and his relationship to Epstein specifically?

Kirtaner-420chan1314 karma

Both of them are subhuman trash.

djyoshmo432 karma

How secure do you think the TOR network is? Also, with the move from BTC to XMR for most of the underground sections of the dark web, what do you think the next logical steps will be for tracking pedos/human traffickers/et al and taking care of those particular scourge?

Thanks for all your hard work, and please continue the fight.

Kirtaner-420chan441 karma

Tor is only one piece of the puzzle and for those who truly need the security it implies, many steps are required for both OpSec and hardening purposes.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

ChipperChick349 karma

Who should be the most scared of annon right now?

Kirtaner-420chan552 karma

Jim Watkins, probably.

Donttrustvariks345 karma


Kirtaner-420chan440 karma


PurpleUnicornSheep333 karma

If you’re comfortable sharing, what would you say your “origin story” is? By that, I mean how did you become interested and start to do what you do? And how did that influence where you are now?

Kirtaner-420chan758 karma

I was an extremely angry 19 year old with nothing but malice towards anything and everything and it took on a life of its own.

I have since learned how to pace myself and what *not* to do.

Kaypra320 karma

How would you recommend the average person begin to mobilize against QAnon and communities like them online?

Kirtaner-420chan866 karma

Report all QAnon posts. Ignore all QAnon posters. Mobilize. Spread the word. This is going to take every bit of help that can be mustered. #ButtSec.

QAnon is not Anonymous. Make sure everyone know this.

jackspedicey224314 karma

why do you do what you do?

Kirtaner-420chan1239 karma

I did it for the lulz.

Psalla259 karma

How will you engage against a collective who's target audience doesn't care about facts in the first place?

Kirtaner-420chan461 karma

Drown them out.

denimlikethejean244 karma

What change is most important to you right now?

Kirtaner-420chan752 karma

Ending hate movements.

N3P0T1SM201 karma

Hi Aubrey,

how can ordinary people fight against the government and Big Tech tracking us regularly?

Kirtaner-420chan274 karma

Use privacy-oriented services. Mullvad. uBlock. If they have no data to sell, there's nothing to sustain them.

Viggerous197 karma

Pineapple on Pizza? Yay or Nay?

Kirtaner-420chan1020 karma

Hawaiian pizza is a gift from Canada to the world. You're welcome.

WorldRoot174 karma

What is your favourite pass time?

Kirtaner-420chan539 karma

Video games. Been a lifetime enthusiast. Recently I have been using Tetris Effect to center myself. Everyone should play more Tetris.

Rabid_Dingo153 karma

Aubrey, after a while of Anonymous trending, I saw the internet ask for Anonymous to take out/hack/ go after certain groups on the regular.

Was there one in particular favorite request or one that stood out among all the crazy requests?

Kirtaner-420chan263 karma

Every person that asks me to take down Facebook makes me hang my head in shame.

Favorite? Hrm...


Angyl_of_Anarkii137 karma

What’s the point of being anonymous if everyone knows who you are?

Kirtaner-420chan304 karma

That was the beautiful irony of it from the beginning.

hiirogen126 karma

Not an InfoSec guy but to me the hard part of trying to explain why we need to care about keeping our stuff secure is finding a context where people can see how it actually impacts their lives.

This is why I loved John Oliver's segment on Government Surveillance, as he boiled it down to "who can see your dick pics."

Are there any other similar topics you really wish the average Internet user would understand better and/or take more seriously?

Kirtaner-420chan59 karma

General ComSec and OpSec. Data privacy.

sterlingcoop120 karma

Would you go on Joe Rogan?

Kirtaner-420chan161 karma


AsianNoodL120 karma

What’s your favorite color?

Kirtaner-420chan226 karma

Slate grey.

zivileh115 karma

Why “Kirtaner”?

Kirtaner-420chan314 karma

I've used this handle online since 1996 when I first signed up for playing Diablo.

It is a modification of Wirt.

vicroll91108 karma

Does "secure information" even exist, or is it just an illusion?

Kirtaner-420chan283 karma

Security is an illusion. Mitigations are all we have.

Donttrustvariks88 karma

What comes next? After Q I mean.

Kirtaner-420chan230 karma

A long shower.

Leena5283 karma

Aubrey, thanks for all the info. I’m of the liberal geriatric population and know little of methodology you guys use. So my question is why can’t 8chan be hacked, corrupted, or stopped as the Mother Jones investigation identifies their hosting illegal sites?

Kirtaner-420chan141 karma

Anything can be hacked. But that leads to hardening.

How to hurt someone? Their wallet. Watkins has a lot of income streams sustaining 8kun and I don't think high-risk adult entertainment payment networks would appreciate having a client who has profiteered from child abuse.

doyoubleednow81 karma

Do you get hacked often?

Kirtaner-420chan156 karma


TripleJeopardy373 karma

How are you "dealing with QAnon?" I'm glad there is some effort to deal with these people. I'm not familiar enough to know, but is there one person who posts regularly enough that claims to be Q, and is there any way to find out who that person really is an confirm they are, in fact, a fucking liar?

Kirtaner-420chan93 karma

Deep research, and hard facts.

SuitableBoysenberry70 karma

Why do you refuse to bring back /i/?

Kirtaner-420chan139 karma

I felt it had its time and place and things started getting too "hairy", in so many words. Hosting it was, obviously, an endless shitshow rife with constant server shutdowns.

However, you can consider the QAnon war as a sort of revival.

greg_barton60 karma

I hope someone is protecting vote tabulation cyber infrastructure at the state level. To fit with AMA rules I’ll ask: is someone protecting vote tabulation cyber infrastructure at the state level? :)

Kirtaner-420chan82 karma

I'd reckon the answer here is "yes".

i_got_dressed_today39 karma

How dangerous can the whole QAnon crap become?

Kirtaner-420chan186 karma

Given the US is on the verge of a full-blown civil war and these QAnon 'useful idiots' are on the frontlines?


IAintNoCowgirl15 karma

You mentioned this in another answer: what is 2FA? Why do I need it?

Kirtaner-420chan32 karma

Two-factor authentication. That thing you can turn on that requires a rotating sequence of numbers or a text message to validate your login.

ChiefQuinby8 karma

Do you think that the removal of the bourgeoisie will ever happen?

Kirtaner-420chan16 karma

It's good to have dreams!

FluidBuyer6 karma

why do you refuse to let the machine resurface? and why are you taking credit for 4chan/m00t's doing?

Kirtaner-420chan9 karma

"Anonymous" the hacker collective is not "Anonymous" the default 4chan username. Most of those early machinations were a clever smokescreen and 4chan was used as a scapegoat.

Sorry for triggering the Eternal September.

Scottdavies865 karma

How big a wrestling fan are you. And which Chris Jericho is your favourite Chris Jericho?

Kirtaner-420chan6 karma

Megafan. I have a few old friends/community members that are currently employed as wrestlers in WWE and AEW. Dio Maddin, Mansoor, and Evil Uno are the three most notable.

WCW Jericho, followed up by suit Jericho.

pool_t4 karma

All time favorite video game?

Kirtaner-420chan6 karma

Split between Rez and Quake III Arena.