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Hackers and Their Groups: Sabu and LulzSec

Hackers and their groups are not usually far from the headlines in modern society. Sometimes hackers take on noble causes and follow the conservative moral code of hacktivism. Other times hackers veer brashly into political conflicts and shut down company websites. Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur and his group LulzSec fit into the latter category.

Background

Hector grew up in a tough area. His family was involved with drug trafficking. When he was only 11 his grandmother was arrested for selling drugs (1). This had a traumatic effect on him. One of his aunts went a little overboard at one point and bought him one of the highest spec computers available at that time (1). She wanted him to use it for school. He didn’t think much of it for a while until she ultimately was arrested for drugs and went to jail as well. Then he saw the computer box sitting there untouched, and his love affair took off. He needed to blaze his own path, a way to escape, and the computer was it.

Hector dropped out of school in the 9th grade (1). Given that he was living in a bad area and from a family frequently on the wrong side of the law, Hectors prospects didn’t look good. He started trying to use the computer to make money. He started with some small hack jobs and worked his way up to challenging himself by targeting lager organizations. Due to the environment he was raised in, Hector naturally had a disdain for law-enforcement and injustice. Once he had honed his computer skills, putting these two together certainly wasn’t a far-fetched marriage. He saw a video of US soldiers in a helicopter gunning down cameramen on the ground home they thought were militants (cite). This was a rallying cry for many hacker groups and it also incensed Hector.

Hacker Underworld and LulzSec:

Hector was eventually invited to join anonymous. Anonymous is one of the most well-known hacker groups in the world. He was involved in hackings that affected Arab Spring uprising. It wasn’t long before Hector spun off from Anonymous and formed his own group as a subset. His group is called Lulzsec.

LulzSec:

Lulzsec had a motto of ‘laughing at your cyber security since 2011′. Lulzsec was a departure from the noble aspects of hacktivism. They would regularly the deface websites and limit or completely deny access to websites of groups they were targeting. Lulzsec was brash and bold. They made no secret of their involvement when they struck. Ultimately there attack on a government related firm, Stratfor, would be what the majority of the LulzSec members’ would be criminally charged for (2).

FBI Informant:

Hector eventually began to notice some strange things. It was clear he was under surveillance. One night the FBI showed up at his door. Hector knew he was caught. He was a guardian for his two young cousins while his aunt was in jail for dealing heroin. The FBI needed an inside connection to the hacker underground, and due to hectors soft heart for his young cousins, the FBI was able to work out a deal. Hector would work undercover with them. He would be able to continue his underground hacker status while under surveillance. Most importantly, Hector would be able to remain free to take care of his young cousins.

Hector put in extreme hours for the FBI (2). He worked from the FBI offices in New York and eventually from home. His charges and involvement were kept secret until the FBI charged many others from the hacker underground. Hector eventually had his bail revoked for some ill advised postings and spent 7 months in prison (1). Though it’s not something anyone would wish for, Hector later expressed his gratitude for his time behind bars as it gave him time for the necessary introspection to be able to change for good. Hector, who received unusual praise from prosecutors at his sentencing, was ultimately sentenced to time served. Without his cooperation he could’ve served up to 124 years (cite).

Post Hacking Career:

Hector took whatever work he could get. Once he was allowed to touch a computer again, he naturally tried to pursue on the right side of the cyber-world. Even though he obviously possessed an extremely valuable skillset, his reputation as a cybercriminal preceded him. Eventually he was able to get a job with Rhino labs testing the security of the computer networks of their clients (1).

Summary:

Hector definitely started his foray into the cyber-world on the wrong side of the law. He thought he were doing the right thing, however through Hectors FBI cooperation ultimately LulzSec paid the price. Hector has taken full advantage of the opportunity to redeem himself. He has shown the world through his work with Rhino Labs that he can be successful on the right side of the Law.

References:

  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-06/a-former-anonymous-hacker-s-search-for-redemption

  2. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/07/lulzsec_takedown_analysis/?page=2