Hacking Collective LulzSec Suffers Massive Crackdown

Arrests come after hacker turns government informant

Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Hacking Collective LulzSec Suffers Massive CrackdownThe notorious hacking collective known as LulzSec suffered a major blow this week when one of its own used his place in the "hacktivist" community to lead authorities to the doors of a number of his former compatriots.

A hacker known as The Real Sabu - real name Hector Xavier Monsegur - has been helping to encourage his fellow hackers to carry out attacks against private companies and government agencies around the world, but has been doing so at the behest of the U.S. Government, according to a report from the New York Times. Monsegur, a 28-year-old New Yorker, pleaded guilty in August to a number of counts of conspiracy to attack computers and has been instigating similar attacks in efforts to help authorities ever since.

As part of his efforts, four men in Britain and Ireland, and another in Chicago, were arrested and charged with computer crimes earlier this week, the report said. This crackdown was part of a worldwide effort to reduce the effectiveness of hacktivist collectives like LulzSec and the better-known group Anonymous. Experts say that this revelation, that a former hacker turned informant, will likely be a serious blow to the global community.

"It is going to be very difficult for Anonymous to recover from such a breach of trust," Mikko Hypponen, a security researcher at F-Secure Labs in Helsinki, told the newspaper. "You can see the Anonymous people now looking left and right and realizing, if they couldn't trust Sabu, who can they trust?"

But at the same time, experts also wonder on the exact effects the news that Sabu was working with law enforcement officials will have, the report said. In general, these collectives are designed to be loose and decentralized by design, and seem to choose their targets for very disparate reasons. In addition, more hackers are joining their ranks all the time. However, it is hoped that this type of distrust may be enough to dissuade former participants from being quite so eager to engage in similar attacks in the future.

Ondrej Krehel, the chief information security officer for Identity Theft 911, has a blog about the threats posed by hackers to organizations and consumers alike, and what steps can be taken to mitigate these concerns.

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