Allegations Regarding FBI Involvement with OpenBSD

Let’s get right to the point and set the record straight: I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with or employed by the FBI or any other government agency.

That’s why I was surprised when word surfaced that I had been implicated in some sort of conspiracy regarding a plan to place secret backdoors into an OpenBSD cryptographic framework, and that my recent advocacy of OpenBSD was based on my alleged involvement with the FBI.

I don’t know where the person who started this rumor got his information, but he is sadly mistaken regarding my involvement. Perhaps the other Scott Lowe is involved; I don’t know. What I do know is this: I’m not affiliated with, supported by, employed by, associated with, or in support of the FBI in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Quite simply, it wasn’t me.

Feel free to post any additional questions or courteous comments below. I’ll answer all relevant questions openly and honestly.

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54 comments

  1. Marsh Ray’s avatar

    Oh sure, that’s exactly what you would be expected to say! :-)

  2. Storagezilla’s avatar

    Dude, what’s your codename?

    Is it something cool?

    Can it be “DangerMan”?

    It’s DangerMan isn’t it!

    *Awesome.*

  3. Carter Shanklin’s avatar

    Scott, “the eagle flys west after midnight”. We’re depending on you. Don’t screw this up.

  4. Nik Simpson’s avatar

    But Scott, if you were an FBI stooge, you would as a matter of course deny it, so there you are ;-)

  5. Forbes Guthrie’s avatar

    Scott, do I need to review that last attachment with my Drogen’s Decoder Wheel? Just tape the window with a cross.

    Man, that G.P. is as crazy as a cut snake.

  6. Anonymous’s avatar

    Palmer Eldritch will get you! No matter what you do.

  7. Jimmy Hess’s avatar

    Could it be sensationalist bloggers who lack understanding of basic fact checking trying to max out their PPC/P4P ad revenue by posting unsubstantiated rumors of scandal? How bothersome…

    Or perhaps a third Scott Lowe? They being wrong about it being you, the possibility is there could be a small handful of people with the name out there, and one on FBI payroll (if any) may be some old FBI vet or retiree who doesn’t even have any internet presence.

    Possibly Someone saw the name ‘Scott Lowe’ on some list that caused them to come up with an idea which they did not properly confirm, perhaps because it was so “juicy”.

    In any case, they are lacking in the “evidence of conspiracy” department.

  8. Vic Camacho’s avatar

    @Carter… too funny
    @Storagezilla… Danger is his middle name.

  9. Matt’s avatar

    Is it april 1st? This post is kinda weird dude. Open disclosure so that the rest of us know what is happening please.

  10. Duncan’s avatar

    So it is not Chad’s Army, but a secret service…

    nothing wrong with that though,

    007

  11. Simon Long’s avatar

    I’ve actually just laughed out loud in the office whilst reading this.

    Pure gold.

    Love the comments.

  12. Juanma (@jreypo)’s avatar

    Scott, situations like this happens because there are too many conspiracy theory lovers out there.

    If my opinion worth something, I don’t believe you are tied to the FBI or any government agency in any way.

    And as a many years OpenBSD user I asked you to continue with your advocacy of OpenBSD and with your great blog.

    Juanma.

  13. André’s avatar

    Nor have you been working for, in whatever capacity, an organization that wat itself directly or indirectly hired by the a government agency? It’s quite easy to claim you didn’t work for such an agency, but that does not entail that you did not do work for them, right?

    I am not saying you did, but perhaps a denial should be specific enough to rule out all ways such a thing could be organized.

  14. Sketch’s avatar

    Okay Secret Agent Man, So, what you’re REALLY saying is that there’s a job opening at the FBI… I got it. I’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down.

    @Carter Shanklin:
    The Chair Is Against The Wall. The Chair Is Against The Wall.
    John Has a Long Mustache. John Has a Long Mustache.

  15. Tony Nelson’s avatar

    Scott, roll with it. In fact, I want to represent you and be your agent for the rights to the forthcoming movie about your covert spy life. I suggest we get together and send the script to Tom Clancy for review. BTW, who do you think should play you on the big screen? Also, can I get a cameo role?

  16. Tango Foxtrot’s avatar

    Now that we know who your friends are, any chance of telling us what the 4th solution to the CIA Kryptos is?

  17. dan libonati’s avatar

    I think that he’s part of the VCDX (very covert digital exchange) they call him double zero 39….Scott I have to say ..who every started this rumor as a great imagination for Ian Fleming books….

  18. slowe’s avatar

    Andre, my denial was specific enough to indicate that I have never done any work for the FBI, directly or indirectly. So I’d appreciate it if you’d stop cooking up conspiracy theories until you can back it with some hard evidence.

    Everyone else, I appreciate the support and thank you for keeping it light.

  19. Aaron Toponce’s avatar

    Heh. Heres’ the thing.

    1) If you are telling the truth, then it’s a done deal. You have nothing to worry about.
    2) If you did work for the FBI, or currently are, then of course you would blog what you did. Who would break their clearance NDA that the United States government granted them!?

    Heh.

    To catch everyone up (seeing as though the blog post itself is missing the details):

    http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.os.openbsd.tech/22557

    Notice the last paragraph:

    “This is also why several inside FBI folks have been recently
    advocating the use of OpenBSD for VPN and firewalling implementations
    in virtualized environments, for example Scott Lowe is a well
    respected author in virtualization circles who also happens top be on
    the FBI payroll, and who has also recently published several tutorials
    for the use of OpenBSD VMs in enterprise VMware vSphere deployments.”

    You have written a great deal about VMWare vSphere deployments, and you’re a strong advocate of OpenBSD. So, if Gregory Perry is naming some random dude, or maybe he doesn’t like you, so be it, but that’s awfully specific, don’t you think?

    Frankly, I’m sitting this one out until I see the offending code. This could be another SSH 0-day false alarm.

  20. merl’s avatar

    Alright, so you’re a government agent being paid by the FBI to lie through your teeth, which means … *checks post* … you ARE a secret agent!

    But wait, that must be what they want me to think!

    Alright, reverse everything. In that case, you’re being paid by the FBI to *NOT* be a secret agent, obviously to distract from the real secret agent… who is.. um..

    Well, the only person I know didn’t do it is me. …Which means, as you aren’t the secret agent, I’m completly and utterly not NOT the secret agent…

    So I wrote the bad crypto!!

    Oh… oh god. I’m so sorry, everyone.

  21. Christian Mohn’s avatar

    This explains all the weird comments you had at VMworld! You were italking in code! No wonder we discussed long distance vMotion, it’s all just code for something. Suddenly everything is clear!

    On a (semi) serious note, you know you’ve hit the big-time when crackpot conspiracy theorists (terrorists?) starts naming you. That’s probably the only positive spin on this incredibly weird and outright crazy situation.

    This being in the US and all, I’m sure you can sue everyone in Bizarroland for this, and if I were you, I would. If I could. Unless I got killed by FBI agents first.

  22. ChrisFricke’s avatar

    Completely unrelated, but did you and the other Scott Lowe ever start working on a book? I was looking forward to that. In fact I was thinking the third Scott Lowe should write the forward…

    Anyways, best of luck with your spy business DangerMan!

  23. slowe’s avatar

    Chris Fricke, unfortunately the other Scott Lowe and I never got quite synced up on that project. Perhaps in the future…he seems to be a great guy and I would enjoy having the opportunity to work with him.

  24. rembrandt’s avatar

    Well in case it’s true you got Fooled By Idiots and this will come out anyway. And in case it was not you I wonder why somebody would claim it… It would mean you could sue him. But until now you did not.

    At least you can relax as long as the Cocain Import Agency works and makes profit.

  25. Michael McNamara’s avatar

    That’s just too funny…

    Lowe… Scott Lowe.. 007

  26. Kragen Javier Sitaker’s avatar

    Have you committed code to OpenBSD’s IPSEC implementation? Because if not, then clearly you haven’t had the means, regardless of whether you had the motive.

  27. pachinko’s avatar

    Passing the buck to “other” Scott Lowe looks like a smear attempt to me. YMMV.

  28. anonymous’s avatar

    Hey Peeps:

    “En dubio pro reo” …

    I wish for a proper investigation before judging anyone.

  29. slowe’s avatar

    Kragen Javier Sitaker, I have not ever committed code to any part of OpenBSD. My involvement has only been advocacy, and then only because I appreciate the work that has gone into the project not for any hidden agenda.

    Pachinko, I mentioned the other Scott Lowe only because it could have been a case of mistaken identity. He and I have been communicating with each other as this situation develops.

  30. Other Scott Lowe’s avatar

    The Other Scott Lowe here…

    pachinko – I didn’t take it as a smear from Scott at all. I saw it as a “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but don’t forget that there is another Scott Lowe that might know something” thing.

    Chris Fricke – Like Scott, I’d love to work with him on a project sometime, but time has been a rare item these days.

    We’ve been confused with one another before, so it certainly wouldn’t have been outside the realm of possibility.

    Scott

  31. Moose’s avatar

    >Chris Fricke, unfortunately the other Scott Lowe and I never got
    >quite synced up on that project. Perhaps in the future…he seems to be
    >a great guy and I would enjoy having the opportunity to work with
    >him.

    But if you team up, that would produce Secret Agent * 2, or maybe even Secret Agent ^2.

    That would be like 0049 = WOW !!!

  32. vinternals’s avatar

    I am in utter disbelief… that the FBI would have an NDA with an expiry date on it!?!?!

    Seriously though, I shouldn’t laugh at your expense Scott and you have my support 100%, but from the outside this whole thing is freakin hilarious. Put your mind forward 10 years to the time when you read this again :)

    And besides, anyone who has been reading your blog for years (like me) will know that you couldn’t hack in C to save yourself :P

    Stu

  33. Andrew Miller’s avatar

    Hmm…..maybe Nick Weaver and Scott Lowe are really the same person (would explain the C code hacking chops)….need to go look for backdoors in the UberVSA now (all that speed stuff was just an excuse to put some backdoors in I’m thinkin’).

  34. Packetguy’s avatar

    The accuser, Gregory Perry, blatantly states “Scott Lowe is a well
    respected author in virtualization circles who also happens top be on
    the FBI payroll.” Since you are a respected author in virtualization circles, it seems probably that he means you. And that means he has libeled you, and you could sue him, if not for damages, then to demand a public retraction and apology.

  35. Typical’s avatar

    OMG Can you ever trust this guy anymore?

  36. Crystal’s avatar

    Anyone that has worked with, talked to, or known Scott in any capacity over the last 17 years knows that he is a man of integrity. He would NOT say that he didn’t work for the FBI if he in fact did. Look at it from our side of things for a moment, please. We go on a long overdue vacation with our family and get a text saying, “I didn’t know you worked for the FBI.” We thought it was a joke because we have no connection to the FBI. We got back to our room and started seeing all the accusations out there. We are stunned. Now, for the last three days of our vacation, all we hear about online is this FBI thing. If Scott worked for the FBI 10 years ago, can any of you tell me why we never got paid and why we lived paycheck (from DataNet) to paycheck (from DataNet) at that time? Can any of you tell me why we, ourselves, have no record of any association with the FBI? Seriously people, this is ridiculous and we will find out why Scott is being slandered this way. For those supporting Scott, thank you. For those building more accusations, you will have egg on your face when this is over. Now please let us enjoy our family vacation and our Christmas. I’ll leave all of you choosing not to trust Scott with this thought…if Mr. Perry “knows” that Scott is on the FBI payroll, then why is he refusing to return our calls when we contacted him for clarification and proof?

  37. Brandon’s avatar

    GASP. How could you Scott?

    Sad face.

    Hopefully this goes off the radar soon enough. Haven’t you heard of plausible deniability? You SO WERE NOT in the FBI. If I were you I’d of just stayed quiet. Better yet, you should have just admitted it and acted like it was all real. I guess you’re married now, but if you weren’t you’d definitely be looked up by all the nerdy chicks like for a bad boy “covert spy”. Then again, that could be even worse!

  38. Tim’s avatar

    I don’t think most reasonable people are buying the story. Not even sure this Perry guy is the real author. Somebody could have just been jerking Theo’s chain and he thought it needed investigation.

    You guys should not worry about it.

  39. Fugitive’s avatar

    I think the bad Scott Lowe is a one-armed man. Yep, I’m pretty sure he is a one-armed man. Same thing happened to me, so no worries.

  40. Hoover’s avatar

    I can has source code?

  41. Jeffrey wolfanger’s avatar

    Scott-
    It’s unfortunate that this happened let alone on family vacation.

    I really loved those powerpoints you had a few posts ago, I wish you would present something like this sometime in our vmugs in houston.

    Anyway, try not to dwell on negativity in your situation as it is easier said than done. I didn’t laugh when I read your wifes response I felt bad. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Thanks,
    Jeffrey

  42. slowe’s avatar

    Jeffrey, thanks for the words of support. Say, if you’re interested in having me come down and speak at your VMUG, just drop me an e-mail and we’ll see what we can do. I’d be happy to visit Houston and talk virtualization.

    Merry Christmas to you as well!

  43. anonymous’s avatar

    hoover,

    if you downoad and/or read it.

  44. Fed Geek’s avatar

    Mr. Lowe,
    After being a Fed Geek for a number of years, I’d like to personally apologize for the tarnishing of your good name at the expense of a noteworthy federal agency.

    I can say that: If (That is an IF folks! Pay attention!) anything of this nature WERE ever done on behalf of your federal tax dollars hard at work:
    1) It would be for some phenomenal and specifically targeted reason, not just some casual capability.
    2) It would never become known until Tom Clancy’s yet to be born Great Grandson were a well known author.

    So for all of you conspiracy buffs out there, give this guy some rest! I can assure you that Mr. Lowe could NOT have been involved in any type of on going government conspiracy due to the simple fact that I have never seen him at any of the regularly scheduled meetings! Now please remember to put your tin foil hats back on as you leave the building.
    – Fed Geek

  45. stine’s avatar

    whatever…. The only way to stop working for the cia/fbi/nsa/etc is to stop paying taxes…
    That being said, I’d like to say hi to my uncle who couldn’t tell us who he worked for or where he worked.

    And thanks for the ldap integration articles, my life is much easier now.

  46. Luke’s avatar

    Serious wife is serious.

  47. Randolf Richardson’s avatar

    Well, I’d say that a round of drinks are in order for the free publicity.

  48. Aszurom’s avatar

    Scott,

    Are you still doing the psychic remote viewing project as well? You were by far the best SAN-psychic we’ve ever had in here. How do you do that? You just sorta go into a trance and commune with the spirit of the array like that.

    Crazy. Anyway, I hope the rest of your government black ops stuff works out.

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