NEW YORK (AP) — A prolific computer hacker who infiltrated the servers of major corporations later switched sides and helped the government disrupt hundreds of cyberattacks on Congress, NASA and other sensitive targets, according to federal prosecutors.
New York prosecutors detailed the cooperation of Hector Xavier Monsegur for the first time in court papers while asking a judge to reward him with leniency at his sentencing 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 cooperation, 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 cybercriminal 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 cooperate, 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 last year to 10 years in prison.
Reports that Monsegur was cooperating 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 Monday.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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