A group of hackers that attacked governments and corporations around the globe has been busted after its ringleader turned against his comrades and secretly became an informant for the FBI months ago, authorities announced Tuesday.
The hackers focused on a variety of targets, including corporate and government sites, law enforcement officials said.
The ringleader arrested in New York, Hector Xavier Monsegur, is charged with conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, among other charges. Authorities say he pleaded guilty to the charges on Aug. 15. and has been cooperating.
He worked from his home at a Lower East Side housing project and is a legendary figure known in the hacking world as "Sabu."
One of the U.S. arrests occurred in Chicago, and the remaining four were overseas.
One of the people charged is linked to the Stratfor hacking case, law enforcement officials said. The private intelligence firm was targeted last year.
According to court papers, Monsegur was an "influential member of three hacking organizations — Anonymous, Internet Feds and LulzSec — that were responsible for multiple cyber attacks on the computer systems of various businesses and governments in the United States and throughout the world."
He acted as a "rooter," a computer hacker who identified vulnerabilities in the computer systems of potential victims, documents said.
Monsegur is free on $50,000 bail.
The court papers said he participated in several cyber attacks from December 2010 through last June 7 as part of Anonymous, including attacks on Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and attacks on government computers in Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
The court papers said he formed LulzSec last May with other elite hackers, who then attacked various divisions of Sony, a global electronics and media company, as well as the Public Broadcasting Service, the United States Senate, Unveillance, a cyber security firm headquartered in Delaware and Bethesday Softworks, a video game company based in Maryland.
LulzSec is a spin-off of the loosely organized hacking collective Anonymous. Its members attained notoriety last May by attacking the website of the public broadcaster PBS and posting a story claiming that the slain rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand.