In a plot twist that’s ripe for adapting into a big-budget feature, federal prosecutors revealed today that the ringleader of the notorious LulzSec hacking group had actually been an informant for the FBI for the past six months, providing information that lead to today’s arrest of three LulzSec members and conspiracy charges against two others. The LulzSec and the larger Anonymous networks have been accused of devastating hacking attacks on the U.S. government and major corporations — including Fox, PBS and Sony. Hector Xavier Monsegur — who is said to go by the pseudonym Sabu — is the unlikely mastermind of the loosely organized hacking group charged with stealing confidential information, attacking websites and putting some out of operation temporarily. The group claimed it was partly motivated by the desire to expose lax security measures at big corporations. Using information Monsegur supplied — even while allegedly continuing to post provocative attacks on the government on his Twitter account — FBI agents today arrested two hackers in Britain, another two in Ireland and a fifth in Chicago and unveiled the charges against them and Monsegur. They are accused of being the key leaders of LulzSec. “This is devastating to the organization,” said an FBI official involved with the investigation. “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”
A 28-year-old unemployed father of two, Monsegur lead LulzSec from a public housing project in lower Manhattan. He began cooperating with the feds after he was arrested last June in the wake of several destructive hacking attacks. In one of the most notorious, LulzSec claimed in June that it accessed the accounts of more than 1 million user accounts at Sony.com and Sony’s PlayStation network that forced the latter to shut down for more than a month last year and Sony boss Howard Stringer to apologize. With PBS, LulzSec reportedly hacked into the public broadcaster’s site and posted an erroneous story that slain rapper Tupac Shakur was actually alive and living in New Zealand. The group also claimed it hacked into Fox.com and leaked information about thousands of aspiring The X Factor contestants.