Anonymous hacktivist Hector Xavier Monsegur, more commonly known by his handle Sabu, is thought to have directed multiple attacks against foreign targets while acting as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to reports based on redacted federal court testimony.
Monsegur, who was arrested in 2011 for his malicious hacking activities but not yet convicted, has been a confidential informant for the FBI for several years, and is believed to have provided intelligence on other Anonymous members in an effort to reduce the likelihood of a lengthy prison sentence.
A federal prosecutor told a judge in a hearing in 2011 that Monsegur was “cooperating with the government proactively” having “literally worked around the clock with federal agents” to gather information about other hacktivists who were “targets of national and international interests.”
“During this time the defendant has been closely monitored by the government. We have installed software on a computer that tracks his online activity. There is also video surveillance in the defendant’s residence,” the prosecutor informed the court.
Nonetheless, during the period he has been cooperating with law enforcement investigations, it is alleged that he directed other hackers to conduct attacks on more than 2,000 domains in 2012 alone, with many of the targeted websites being operated by the Iranian, Syrian, and Brazilian governments.
Given how closely the FBI was monitoring Monsegur, speculation has arisen about exactly what role the agency played in the attacks he is believed to have orchestrated, and the fact that his sentencing hearings keep getting postponed may be indicative that he is still actively working with law enforcement.
The attacks leveraged a vulnerability in Parallels’ Plesk, the control panel application for Web hosting services, and the zero-day bug was not disclosed to the company until February of 2012, leading some to believe that the FBI may have known about the vulnerability but did not report it so that it could be utilized in the attacks.
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