The infamous LulzSec hacker “Sabu” has earned himself another six months of reprieve. Over one year ago, he plead guilty to 12 criminal charges that left him facing a potential maximum sentence of 124 years in prison. In a US District Court filing on Tuesday, federal authorities cited Hector Xavier Monsegur’s ongoing cooperation in their request for a six-month adjournment of the August 22, 2012 sentencing control date, according to FOX News.
Monsegur’s identity as “Sabu” was unmasked this past March after a previously sealed indictment revealed that he’d been cooperating with the FBI for months as an informant. A leading member of the “LulzSec” faction of the hacker collective Anonymous, Monsegur had been secretly arrested in June of 2011 after federal authorities nabbed him in connection with numerous high profile hackings of various corporations and governments.
It was Sabu’s cooperation as an informant that led to the major FBI bust of five of his fellow hackers this past March. As details about his role became known to the public, there was backlash from some of his allies and supporters. Within days, hackers associated with Anonymous defaced the website of antivirus company Panda Software and posted a message to Sabu, which read in part:
“Yeah yeah, we know, Sabu snitched on us. As usually happens FBI menaced him to take his sons away. We understand, but we were your family too. (Remember what you liked to say?)… It’s sad and we can’t imagine how it feels having to look at the mirror each morning and see there the guy who shopped their friends to police.”
While Anonymous had already become a fractured movement, those fractures have intensified over time and have given way to chaos. Once heavily populated with pranskters and anti-Scientology troublemakers, the movement admittedly also maintained a number of well-intentioned "hacktivists" focused on giving voice to activists behind the firewalls of oppressive governments. But as the movement has grown, so has the chaos – more opportunities exist today for rogue individuals and groups to commit acts, in some cases even criminal activity, under the leaderless banner that is Anonymous.
Authorities and observers have noted that the news of Sabu’s cooperation with the FBI may have had some impact on the hacker collective, specifically on the activist side. There appears to have been an uptick in the infighting, with members of the Anonymous community having grown suspicious that outliers exist amongst them. After the perceived betrayal by Sabu earned him the label of “snitch,” the resulting arrests have bred an environment of distrust and apprehension – some hackers are wary that there may be other snitches in their midst. While that hasn’t stopped the hacker collective, it’s likely that it has served as a deterrent. The validity and impact of that observation remains to be seen as Anonymous progresses through the next phases of the movement’s lifecycle.
As for Hector Xavier Monsegur, his sentencing is now delayed until February 22, 2013, provided he remains in good standing to his agreement with federal authorities. It is expected he may receive a greatly reduced sentence in return for his cooperation as an informant.
For detailed coverage on Anonymous arrests and other related stories, read my previous posts on the subject.