Hacker helped block 300 cyber attacks

2014-05-27 07:37
A US man linked to the worldwide hacking group Anonymous has been detained by the FBI. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

A US man linked to the worldwide hacking group Anonymous has been detained by the FBI. (Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - A prolific computer hacker who infiltrated the servers of major corporations later switched sides and helped the US government disrupt hundreds of cyber attacks on Congress, Nasa and other sensitive targets, according to federal prosecutors.

New York prosecutors detailed the co-operation of Hector Xavier Monsegur for the first time in court papers while asking a judge to reward him with leniency at his sentencing on Tuesday.

They credited Monsegur with helping them cripple Anonymous, the notorious crew of hacktivists who stole confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business.

Working around the clock with FBI agents at his side, Monsegur "provided, in real time, information about then-ongoing computer hacks and vulnerabilities in significant computer systems", prosecutors wrote.

The FBI estimates he helped detect at least 300 separate hacks, preventing millions of dollars in losses, they added.

After his arrest and guilty plea in 2011, Monsegur faced more than two decades behind bars. But because of his co-operation, the sentence could be two years or less.

Court papers say Monsegur first began hacking in a Manhattan apartment in the early 2000s. His aim then was to steal credit card information, then sell it or use it to pay his own bills.

In a 2011 interview with an online magazine, Monsegur said he decided to join forces with Anonymous because he was upset over the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

"I'm just doing what I know how to do, and that is counter abuse," he said.

Starting in early 2011 and using the alias Sabu, Monsegur led an Anonymous splinter group called Lulz Security, or LulzSec, which hacked computer systems of Fox television, Nintendo, PayPal and other businesses, stole private information and then bragged about it online.

The group was loosely affiliated with Jeremy Hammond, the FBI's most wanted cyber criminal whose stated objective was to cause mayhem with the attacks, prosecutors said.


When FBI agents showed up at his home in the summer of 2011, Monsegur immediately agreed to co-operate, giving the FBI a tutorial on the inner-workings and participants of LulzSec and Anonymous, prosecutors said.

Under their direction, he "convinced LulzSec members to provide him digital evidence of the hacking activities" and "asked seemingly innocuous questions that... could be used to pinpoint their exact locations and identities", court papers said.

Monsegur also engaged Hammond in online chats while Hammond was in Chicago, the papers said.

As a result, "physical surveillance teams deployed in Chicago, and an electronic surveillance unit in Washington", they said. Hammond was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years in prison.

Reports that Monsegur was co-operating made him a pariah in the Anonymous movement, prosecutors said. Hackers began posting personal information about him, and he was even approached on the street and threatened, they said.

The harassment "became severe enough that the FBI relocated Monsegur and certain of his family members", they said.

Monsegur's current whereabouts aren't publicly known. One of his attorneys declined to comment on Monday.

Read more on:    lulzsec  |  anonymous  |  us  |  cybercrime  |  online privacy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Meet instagram star, Pumpkin the racoon

With 300 000 followers and growing Pumpkin is winning over the internet!



The cats that cost R35 000
Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy
13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Plant some seeds. Your innovative mind is on fire and your ingenious ideas may just be the seeds for future projects. You may meet...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.