FBI Informant Sabu Linked to International Cyberattacks

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Remember Sabu, the Anonymous hacker turned FBI informant? According to the New York Times, he's been linked to a series of international cyber attacks—and the suggestion is that they may have been ordered by the Bureau.

The newspaper writes that, back in 2012, Sabu exploited a web hosting vulnerability and directed other hackers to extract data—"from bank records to login information"—from a number of foreign government servers. The data was then uploaded to a server known to be monitored by the FBI. The Times explains:

The details of the 2012 episode have, until now, been kept largely a secret in closed sessions of a federal court in New York and heavily redacted documents. While the documents do not indicate whether the F.B.I. directly ordered the attacks, they suggest that the government may have used hackers to gather intelligence overseas even as investigators were trying to dismantle hacking groups like Anonymous and send computer activists away for lengthy prison terms.

Sabu—or Hector Xavier Monsegur to his mother—conducted a series of attacks against the likes of PayPal and MasterCard before being arrested by the FBI back in 2012. Then, he rolled over, turned on his people and became an informant.

While it was known that he was supplying the FBI with information, the new report from the Times suggests that Monsegur was in possession of a list of "more than 2,000 internet domains" provided by the FBI, some of which he attempted to hack along with fellow Anonymous member Jeremy Hammond.

The report reveals that "Monsegur... directed Mr. Hammond to hack government websites in Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and Brazil and other government sites, like those of the Polish Embassy in Britain and the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq."

The FBI has yet to comment on the report—but it certainly seems plausible that it directed attacks through its lapdog hacker. [NYT]

Image by Oleksiy & Tetyana under Creative Commons license