U.S. Attorney charges six people, including alleged leader

LulzSec, the hacker group that focused its attacks on entertainment studios during the summer of 2011 before vanishing as quickly as it appeared, has been caught.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it had charged five people with computer hacking and other crimes, and that a sixth — Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known as alleged LulzSec leader “Sabu” — had pled guilty to those charges.

The group rose to prominence last year, first by hacking the computer system of PBS — changing the Web page of news program “Frontline” to post a false report that rapper Tupac Shakur was “alive and well” in New Zealand, along with Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G.

That mischievousness took more aggressive turns in the ensuing months, when the group stole and posted the personal data of roughly 100,000 users of Sony Pictures’ website, and later hacked videogame publisher Bethesda Softworks, with the group claiming credit for stealing the data of 200,000 customers.

“LulzSec undertook a campaign of malicious cyber-assaults on the websites and computer systems of various business and governmental entities in the United States and throughout the world,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Operating under an earlier pseudonym, the group was also responsible for breaking into Fox’s system and leaking a database of X Factor contestants containing contact information of 73,000 contestants.

Monsegur was allegedly the leader of the band, and reports indicate he cooperated with federal authorities to locate and help capture the other members.

Also charged were Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Darren Martyn and Donncha O’Cearrbhail.

Monsegur pleaded guilty to three counts of computer hacking conspiracy, five counts of computer hacking, one count of computer hacking in furtherance of fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum sentence of 124 years and six months in prison.

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