The Hacking Game

20120312lulzsec

THE HACKING GAME

From The Irish Times, Saturday March 10th, 2012

“It looked like a fairly innocuous tweet, sent a few nights before New Year’s Eve: “@anonymouSabu – will you be releasing technical infodox about how the #Stratfor ownage went down? I sure hope so . . .” To the uninitiated, the words have little significance. But, in retrospect, a certain resonance can be detected in the message. The sender was Infodox, a “Security Researcher, Reformed Blackhat, kayaker and student”, according to his Twitter profile. The phrase “Reformed Blackhat” signalled that he used to hack illicitly.

The recipient was Sabu, the leader of LulzSec, or Lulz Security, a notorious gang of hackers who had wreaked havoc on the internet for 50 or so days earlier in 2011, targeting the sites of companies and law-enforcement agencies such as Sony, the Sun newspaper, Fox.com, the CIA, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency. Combined, the attacks cost their victims hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sabu could look back on an extraordinary 12 months of hacks and attacks, enough to establish him and his crew of hackers as the most disruptive and high-profile members of a new generation of hacktivists, operating somewhere between online activist and online vandal, even briefly overshadowing Anonymous, the amorphous online collective out of which LulzSec had grown.

For Sabu the year began with “Operation Tunisia”, hacking the website of Ben Ali’s Tunisian government during the Arab Spring; it continued with their attention-grabbing hacking spree, which was followed by the arrest of some LulzSec members during the summer; and it culminated in another LulzSec member, Jeremy Hammond, allegedly leaking to Wikileaks millions of emails from the private US intelligence firm Stratfor.

It was this stunt, or “ownage”, that Infodox was inquiring about in his tweet. But what Infodox couldn’t have known then, though he might have suspected, was that Sabu had begun co-operating with the FBI months earlier. For Infodox this had particularly serious consequences. In the real world Infodox is Darren Martyn, a 19-year-old chemistry student from Co Galway. And on Tuesday he was one of two Irish teenagers named by US federal prosecutors as being members of LulzSec.”

Read the rest of my article on the Irish hackers at The Irish Times here.

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