Two Irish students at centre of international computer hacking probe
If you haven’t heard of the hacktivist group LulzSec, chances are you haven’t been watching the news too closely these past few months.
However it looks as though the group is beginning to fall apart after it was revealed yesterday that the leader of LulzSec, Hector Monsegur, was exposed as an FBI informant. It turns out that Monsegur was more than happy to offer up his allies on a plate to the authorities. The shocking thing? Two of them are Irish.
The Irish Sun reports that Trinity College student Donncha O Cearbhaill has been charged by US authorities for listening in on a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard in January. The 19 year old student, whose Dad is close friends with Gerry Adams, was apprehended yesterday after gardaí nabbed him at his home in south Dublin.
According to official US papers obtained by the Irish Sun, Donncha “unlawfully and intentionally” recorded a call in January between Scotland Yard and the FBI and then posted confidential information online about the phone call.
He is also accused of accessing the email accounts of two senior officers in the Garda cybercrime unit. The paper reports that Donncha has close ties with the notorious hacktivist group Anonymous, and is known to them by the nickname of “Anonsacco.”
In an email sent to LulzSec boss Monsegur, Anonsacco wrote:
“Hi mate, can I ask for your help? I need to intercept conference call which would be a very good leak. I have acquired info about the time, phone number and pin number for the conference call. I want to test everything out beforehand. I don’t want to miss this call! This will be epic!”
Another Irish student, Darren Martyn of Galway, was also charged yesterday in the US with two counts of conspiracy. Martyn is known online by the name of “Pwnsauce.” He is 25 years old.
The FBI is now seeking to have the students extradited to New York where they will stand trial. If they are convicted, they could face up to 10 years in an American prison.
Two Brits and two Americans, including Monsegur were also charged yesterday.
Since 2010, an international investigation has been underway regarding groups like LulzSec and Anonymous. The investigation began after hacktivists managed to steal confidential data from over 50 police departments in the US and NATO. The FBI got involved when Fox Broadcasting, Sony Pictures and the Public Broadcasting Service were hacked and more and more splinter groups of Anonymous began to form.
Anonymous has been accused of attacks on Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, and in one random display of hacktivism, the group took the data of 70.000 would be US X Factor contestants. Why? Probably just to show that they could.
O Cearbhaill was also accused of breaking into the Fine Gael website last year and stealing personal details of 2,000 party members.
There's no doubt that the FBI will take these charges very seriously. We wonder if this is the end of LulzSec or if the remaining members are planning to go out with a bang...