The news that LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur (known in hacker circles as “Sabu”) was working with the FBI as a informer for at least the last six months sent shockwaves through the so-called hacktivist community Tuesday.
Authorities in the United States, Britain and Ireland have fired a major shot in the war against hackers, arresting five alleged LulzSec members with the help of Monsegur, a 28-year-old unemployed Puerto Rican living in New York. The self-taught hacker is apparently a welfare recipient living as the legal guardian of two young children in public housing.
LulzSec, as we’ve reported here, have been involved in a number of high-profile hacking attacks and cyber raids. They are said to be part of the larger Anonymous collective, a broad group of highly-skilled hackers and teenagers with too much time on their hands.
Monsegur pleaded guilty to computer crimes in August of 2011. He was discovered by police in June after having logged into an Internet chatroom from his own Internet address. He pleaded guilty to a dozen charges and was faced with roughly 124 years in prison, so he chose to flip and become and informant for the FBI to lessen the sentencing.
The online community seemed to be on to him from the start, but he fought vehemently against the “rumours” that he’d gone to the Dark Side. While he was sending the FBI details of upcoming attacks and information about specific hackers, Monsegur’s online presence, Sabu, was as defiant as ever on his Twitter account and elsewhere. So layered was the subterfuge that Sabu tweeted a final update less than 24 hours prior to the most recent rash of arrests.
Now, information about LulzSec is out in the open – just like the credit card information of countless innocent people was blasted out into the open by hacker attacks and cybercrimes. The Guardian, for instance, has published IRC “leaks” of discussions between LulzSec members, while court papers reveal the extent to which Sabu was cooperating with authorities to help bring down the disorganized organization from the inside.
The hacker community will go on ticking and performing more actions to garner attention to their “causes,” whatever they may be. These arrests and the betrayal of one of their own will eventually be forgotten because, after all, “Anonymous is an ideal.”
Thanks to the FBI’s operation and Monsegur’s “traitorous” actions, however, trust may be an issue within the community and the lack of it could eat away at whatever foundations exist beneath.