Heard about these curious creatures on RadioLab’s Galapagos feature.
According to Wikipedia:
A Judas goat is a trained goat used in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and onto trucks.
One of the most effective uses of Judas Goats was in the Galapagos islands, where they were trying to eradicate them as an invasive species. They did so by shooting the goats from helicopters…
After endless planning and meetings, we commenced project Isabella…In under a year, through an aerial attack [by helicopter], we ended up wiping out 90 percent of the goats on Isabela. But to give an example of the nature of this business, its relatively easy to remove 90 percent of a goat population from an island. As they become rarer and rarer, they become harder to detect. The become educated. So the goats start hiding. You end up flying around in an expensive helicopter not finding any goats.
So the way we deal with that is an interesting technique called Judas goats. Goats are gregarious and like being in groups. They’re herd animals. The technique we would use was you fire up the helicopter, capture goats live, take them back to base camp, unload them, put a radio collar on them, and then throw them back on the island. Instinctively, that goat will go find other goats. A week, two weeks go by. You fire up the helicopter and…start tracking the Judas goats until you spot it with other goats. And then everyone gets shot except the Judas goat. And then they do it again. Every two weeks for a year.
The term digital militias is usually used to refer to online social media fighters, often paid, who agitate on behalf of their chosen cause.
Every conflict has cadres representing both sides who slug it out in forums, on twitter and Facebook .
I have another idea about digital militias. It stems from my observation that ordinary end-users do not stand much of a chance against contemporary online threat actors.
There are so many attack vectors, so many software vulnerabilities, such well resourced criminals with cleverly designed social engineering campaigns. The ordinary tech unsavy user is wide open to compromise, exploitation, blackmail, data and identity theft.
What I see happening us that they tend to seek out a lord of their technical domain. Someone to help and protect them. Someone to troubleshoot, clean up viruses and advise on technical matters.
Like so many professional and journeyman technologists, I find myself in this role. I am responsible for a host of computer, tablets and phones belonging to family, friends and neighbours. It goes beyond helping elderly parents with technical support. I host their websites on my server. I harden and maintain their computers and devices. I clean up the mess when they nailed by bad guys. They call me when they have a suspect a link, or need help when stumped by a technical problem.
Of course I do this all completely for free. It is a pleasure to help friends and family in this way. I almost see it as a duty. In a sense I am a one man digital militia protecting and fighting back where law enforcement is completely absent. I have often wondered where this might end up. Maybe people will start to pool resources to defend themselves online. Entire neighbourhoods who have a pooled network with a firewall and paid system administrator patrolling the virtual wall.
We’ll see. maybe the wild west days of the internet are over. The bad guys have had such an advantage for so long, one imagines there must be a corrective due. Until them, the vulnerable will huddle under the protection of the (relatively) strong but as dozens of hacked celebrities embarrassingly discovered, no one is safe.