The hacking scene received a major blow yesterday when authorities revealed that five respected hackers were charged, a sixth pleading guilty to computer crimes and other accusations.
The shock was even bigger when everyone learned that one of the coordinators of many operations, the hacker known as Sabu, had been working with law enforcement representatives since the summer of 2011.
According to a press release from the FBI, Ryan Ackroyd (Kayla), Jake Davis (Topiary), Darren Martyn (Pwnsauce), and Donncha O’Cearrbhail (Palladium) are charged with hacking into the systems of Fox Broadcasting Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and other companies.
It turns out that New Yorker Hector Xavier Monsegur, known in the hacking community as Sabu, was previously arrested in July 2011, and on August 15 he pled guilty to computer hacking conspiracy and other crimes. However, no one was aware of this, since Monsegur carried on his normal activities as being one of the more vocal hacktivists.
Among other things Monsegur admitted to the authorities of being involved in the hacks that targeted HBGary Inc, HBGary Federal LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, Infragard Members Alliance, and PBS.
Another one of the hackers, Jeremy Hammond, or Anarchaos, was arrested in Chicago, being suspected of being behind the breach that targeted the global intelligence firm Stratfor in December 2011.
Aged between 19 and 28, the individuals from the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland are suspected of being part of the Anonymous community, the LulzSec group and the Internet Feds.
The suspects face sentences between 7 and 124 years in prison if prosecutors manage to find enough evidence against them.
So how did Sabu help the feds?
The indictment, the complaints, and his statement made at the guilty plea revealed that Monsegur, along with other members of Anonymous, were responsible for the denial-of-service (DOS) attacks launched against Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and government computer systems from outside the US.
The Internet Feds ran a campaign of cybercrime during the period between December 2010 and May 2011 against organizations such as HBGary, a political party in Ireland and Fox, from which they leaked the private data of more than 70,000 individuals that were taking part in the X-Factor show.
In May 2011, Ackroyd, Davis, Martyn and Monsegur formed Lulz Security or LulzSec which continued to cause havoc, breaching the online systems of PBS, Sony, from which they stole 100,000 user credential sets, and Bethesda Software.
Apparently, the Stratfor hack that made a lot of headlines at the end of 2011 was planned by Hammond and other members of the AntiSec movement. The operation resulted in the leak of emails, subscriber account information and credit card details, which were later utilized to make unauthorized charges of over $700,000 (525,000 EUR).
So what do other hackers think about the fact that Sabu worked as an FBI informant?
Phantom, one of the members of TeaMp0isoN told us that not all hackers trusted Sabu.
“LulzSec is a bunch of skids that came out to be snitches. How often does it happen that the ‘leader’ is a snitch. Totally proved our point from months ago when we doxed Sabu (wich turned out to be correct dox),” he said.