Tech

Notorious Computer Hacker Freed From Prison After Donning ‘White Hat’

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(Computer hacker Hector Xavier Monsegur, a/k/a "Sabu," walks out of federal court in Manhattan after his sentencing.   Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/ AFP/ Getty Images)

(Computer hacker Hector Xavier Monsegur, a/k/a “Sabu,” walks out of federal court in Manhattan after his sentencing. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/ AFP/ Getty Images)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By technology editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A New York City man who stole information from Sony, Nintendo, Fox, and other corporate computer networks won’t have to spend another day behind bars for his crimes because, according to a federal judge in New York, the hacker helped stop hundreds of attacks by others.

There weren’t many targets that didn’t interest Hector Monsegur and his group, called LulzSec:  Playstation users, X Factor contestants, the US Senate.

Until the FBI came calling.

“He was arrested back in the middle of 2011,” says  CNET editor-at-large Tim Stevens, “and basically the next day turned and started to help them identify some of the major hackers they wanted to bring down.  He had two foster children that he wanted to protect, and the FBI said, ‘We have enough information to put you in jail today.’ “

For that quick cooperation, Stevens says, the man known online as Sabu has received a sentence of time served — seven months — instead of up to 25 years in prison.

“He was very helpful in bringing people to justice and also preventing hacks, and also helping to fix web sites and government agencies as well to prevent other hacks,” Stevens says.

Monsegur opened the eyes of federal investigators to the inner workings of cyberattackers such as the anti-government group that called itself “Anonymous.”  Prosecutors say he helped disrupt 300 hacks and told authorities of problems that could have led to attacks on a city’s water system.

Monsegur also fooled his former cohorts into giving up evidence and their locations, which led to major arrests.

But now, hackers have retaliated with threats so severe that Monsegur and some of his family have been relocated by the FBI.

 

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