Members of the hacking group LulzSec, whose name means laughing at security, are probably not laughing following the arrests of five people in the United Kingdom and in Chicago on Tuesday.
More dramatically, the information that led to the arrests may have come from an informant, himself a top LulzSec hacker who had been arrested last June, according to Fox News. Fox's online report identified the informer as Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28, who used the aliases The Real Sabu and Xavier deLeon, an unemployed father living in a public housing project on New York's Lower East Side.
Rooting Out the Rooter
The arrests immediately followed the unsealing of indictment documents from August on 12 counts of hacking-related charges in New York's Southern District federal court. The documents, posted by Fox, say that Monsegur acted as a "rooter" who identified weaknesses in computer systems and either exploited them himself or passed them along to others to exploit them.
The documents allege that Monsegur was involved in a conspiracy with Anonymous from at least 2010 until June 7, 2011.
Although LulzSec claims it's all about the fun, the federal documents allege that Monsegur accessed the Web site of an automotive parts company and obtained four automobile motors for himself worth about $3,450.
Fox identified the other members of LulzSec as Ryan Ackroyd, (aka "Kayla") and Jake Davis, aka "Topiary," of London; Darren Martyn, (aka "pwnsauce") and Donncha O'Cearrbhail, (aka "palladium,") of Ireland.
An American man, Jeremy Hammond (aka "Anarchaos") was arrested in Chicago and charged with being part of Anonymous. He is reportedly tied to the hacking of U.S. security firm Stratfor that led to thousands of internal e-mails being posted on WikiLeaks.
"This is devastating to the organization," an FBI official told Fox News. "We're chopping off the head of LulzSec."
LulzSec, an offshoot of the larger international hacking group Anonymous, went on a hacking rampage last June, using Twitter to taunt its targets and the counter-hacking agencies trying to track them down.
End of the Road?
Targets included the CIA, FBI, PBS, Sony, banks and media outlets as well as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. LulzSec also claimed to have stolen the passwords and e-mail addresses of 62,000 people, reportedly from Comcast, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and Gmail, and posted them online via a hosting service.
At one point the hackers even listed a 614 area-code number and invited fans to "pick a target and we'll obliterate it."
Fox was a victim, too. The documents say Monsegur hacked the network 's computer and accessed information about contestants on the reality show X Factor.
Does this mark the beginning of the end for LulzSec? Chester Wisniewski thinks so. A senior adviser to global security firm Sophos, Wisniewski says that unlike Anonymous, which may have hundreds of members, LulzSec appears to have just a handful.
"I don't think we'll be hearing from them again soon," he said. "They haven't said much since the arrest of Ryan Cleary in June."
Cleary, 19, was arrested in connection with LulzSec in Essex, England. But Wisniewski said that doesn't mean someone else won't pick up the LulzSec banner.
"It's not like a company where you have to sign over the papers," he said.