Leading Hacker Was Undercover FBI Informant
Members of the international hacking group LulzSec ("Lulz Security") have discovered their worst nightmare may have come true. It appears that one of the group's leading figures was working as an undercover FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) informer for the past nine months.
The news emerged this week with the arrest of five suspects in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
All those arrested are said to be members of the LulzSec group, which emerged last summer and quickly made a name for itself as a leading organization of highly proficient hackers.
LulzSec Targets Confidential Data, Makes it Public
The LulzSec group, which took its name from a corruption of the term "lol" (for "laughing out loud") and the word security, has been compared with the better known hacking organization, Anonymous.
However, LulzSec appears to favor slightly different tactics and motivations.
While Anonymous generally prefers denial of service attacks that simply make a website inaccessible for a brief period (for example), LulzSec more commonly gains access to confidential data, then makes that data publicly available.
As a general rule, LulzSec didn't appear to seek to profit from the hacking. Rather, it sought to highlight inadequate security and embarrass its victims.
LulzSec Member "Sabu" An FBI Informer
This week's arrests appear to have been aided by information from a 28-year-old New York man, Hector Xavier Monsegur, who was known online by the pseudonym "Sabu".
In what is almost certainly not coincidental timing, Monsegur pleaded guilty to hacking offenses this week, and is said to have provided "detailed information" about individuals involved in hacking.
In documents relating to his case, a government prosecutor said Monsegur was "actively cooperating with the government and has indicated an intent to continue working proactively with the government."
One of the members of LulzSec charged this week, Jeremy Hammond, is accused of being responsible for one of the most controversial of the LulzSec hacking attacks: the data stolen from Stratfor.
Stolen Credit Cards Used for Charities
The data in question included customer credit cards, which were then used to make unauthorized payments. However, it doesn't appear the hackers themselves benefited from this fraud.
Instead, the hackers reportedly used the cards to make donations to charities, including the American Red Cross.
That use of the stolen funds may not hold much weight in court, however: Hammond is accused of taking at least $700,000 in this way. (Source: wired.com)