Hector Xavier Monsegur, or Sabu as he was better known during his days as a hacker of computer systems across the world, has been spared prison due to his time spent as a federal informant. The famous LulzSec hacker, who the US government estimate took part in around 250 cyber attacks at an estimated cost of $50million, will serve a year's supervised release. Think of it as a reward for being a well-behaved supergrass.
According to the law, he could have served up to 26 years. Monsegur founded LulzSec in 2011, a splinter group from Anonymous, a small group of dedicated and talented hackers based in the US and the UK. Together, they launched global cyber attacks, including one on the US senate.
Monsegur is arguably the most hated figure within the cyber community – a genius hacker who turned his back on the family that he'd helped to create. "I’m not the same person I was three years ago," he told the Manhattan court. "I’ve come a long way. I’ve had to do a lot of thinking and soul-searching."
Loretta Preska, the chief federal judge, praised Monsegur incessantly for his "extraordinary" cooperation and closed the hearing with the words, "The things you did were not so good. But you have done as much as any human can do to make up for those actions, and I salute you for that.”
Monsegur was instrumental in sealing the conviction of Jeremy Hammond, at one point the most notorious cyber criminal in the world, wanted for his role in the hacking of the private intelligence company Stratfor. Hammond, who once worked closely with Monsegur, was sentenced to ten years behind bars last November, after Monsegur corresponded with Hammond online and fed back the information to the FBI. Hammond claims that the FBI are guilty of cyber crime on foreign countries, and they're using Monsegur for this very purpose: to infiltrate the firewalls of other nations.
When the FBI first approached Monsegur in 2011, he agreed to cooperate instantly. Now that he's been released, his computer use will be constantly monitored and questions will be asked of Hammond's claims that Monsegur is being used as a coordinator for computer crimes against other countries.
A spokesperson for Anonymous told the Guardian that "Monsegur is, first and foremost, a criminal; the FBI’s cyber crime task force are his co-conspirators. While operating under their supervision, Monsegur committed numerous felonies which should in no way be excused due to his protected informant status."
Upon his escape from a prison sentence, the cyber community's most hated man will be looking forward to the future – and back over his shoulder.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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