Hackers Brought Down By Their Own Leader

This is Sabu, the leader of LulzSec, the loose group of affiliated hackers devoted the stirring ideology, “Laughing at your security since 2011.”


Captured in June 2011 after he was identified by another hacker, Sabu (28-year-old Hector Xavier Monsegur) turned informant and has spent the intervening months helping ferret out members of both LulzSec and Anonymous.

Hold on a second while I come up with an appropriately somber and serious reaction:

Okay then.

Those arrests are now being revealed, and it seems as though law enforcement officers finally got it right, after suffering one humiliating defeat after another at the hands of hackers.

Law enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec early this morning, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organization’s brazen leader — who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months — arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy.

Charges against four of the five were based on a conspiracy case filed in New York federal court, FoxNews.com has learned. An indictment charging the suspects, who include two men from Great Britain, two from Ireland and an American in Chicago, is expected to be unsealed Tuesday morning in the Southern District of New York.

“This is devastating to the organization,” said an FBI official involved with the investigation. “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

Both groups occasionally wrapped their efforts in high-flying rhetorical nonsense about fighting the power, revealing corruption, standing up for the little guy, and similar blah-de-blah. But, really, LulzSec’s name was the cue to their real goal: they were just in it for the LOLs. It was a kick–an adrenaline rush–for them to breach systems, particularly for targets with a lot of geek cred. Thus, they hacked lots of game companies like Nintendo and Bethesda, with the LulzSec-affiliated Anonymous managing to bring down the entire PlayStation Network for a month, stealing the information for 77 million users. (Anonymous denied this.)

Their efforts cost billions of dollars in damages and losses to companies, governments, banks, and just regular people. Their actions–indeed, their mere existence–has taken money out of your pockets. It’s hard to take seriously someone’s claims of being brave fighters for human rights and dignity when their signal accomplishment is keeping people from playing Killzone for a few weeks.

Oddly enough, a number of tech writers are greeting the news with … outrage. Gizmodo is the worst offender, labeling Sabu’s photo with the words “TRAITOR”; showing pictures of his home, front door and family; and using language normally reserved for mafia movies. Which is just … weird. (No, I don’t link to Gizmodo, or any Gawker sites.)

None of this will stop anything, of course, although it will slow things down for a little while, and give law enforcement new tools to use against hackers. Since hackers are notoriously averse to jail time, they almost always roll on their friend or turn into “white hats,” hackers for the government or corporations. Thus, the “new tools” law enforcement gains from these arrests are the hackers themselves.

Hackers aren’t the mafia, which might be damaged by a leadership vacuum. The mafia wishes it was that decentralized and technologically sophisticated. I know “chopping of its head” seemed like a great analogy for the FBI dude, but he might want to reacquaint himself with his Greek mythology.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.