If you want to go free, go to the Feds. That’s the message sent out today after the one-time leader of online hacking collective and spin-off from Anoymous, Lulzsec, walked free thanks to “extraordinary collaboration” with the FBI.
At the height of their online rampage, hacker group LulzSec was responsible for some of the biggest data breaches in recent memory. The group attacked Sony Pictures in 2011, compromising user data, and also took responsibility for several other high profile attacks, include the CIA website.
After an extensive search, the ring leader was identified by Backtrace Security as Hector Xavier “Sabu” Monsegur. After being nabbed by the authorities in 2011, he almost immediately became an informant for the FBI.
Monsegur spent seven months in jail while he awaited his sentencing, and yesterday the notorious hacker walked out of a U.S courtroom a free man. U.S. District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska released Monsegur for time he had already served, citing his “extraordinary cooperation” with the FBI.
Turning the tide on his former colleagues and partners-in-crime, he helped with information and the arrest of at least seven Anonymous, Lulzsec and Antisec members.
“It was truly extraordinary. We don’t often hear of this,” Judge Preska explained, referring to the fact that Monsegur often spent countless hours trapping, tracing and gathering information of potential hacks and hackers. According to the authorities, he was instrumental in preventing over 300 hacks from taking place since becoming an informant.
And since he has become the face of hacking since his arrest, not everyone is pleased with the turn of events. “Monsegur is, first and foremost, a criminal; the FBI’s cybercrime task force are his co-conspirators. While operating under their supervision, Monsegur committed numerous felonies which should in no way be excused due to his protected informant status,” a spokesperson for the hacker collective Anonymous said in a press statement.
The group went on to condemn the FBI’s tactics in capturing and exposing online hackers. “The FBI continues to use captured informants, who commit egregious crimes in pursuit of reduced sentences, for the sole purpose of creating ‘examples’ to frighten the public. They do this with the hope of pacifying online dissent and snuffing out journalistic investigations into the US government’s misconduct.”[Source – The Guardian, Yahoo News]