Hacker Sabu an FBI Informer or Operative?

Hacker Sabu an FBI Informer or Operative?

A Gizmodo writer opines the fact that the FBI "hacked" the hackers.

Sabu, the notorious hacker, Anonymous affiliate, and captain of the #AntiSec hacktivist movement, has been a divisive character within the hacker community. Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu, was taken into police custody and charged with crimes that could net him over 100 years in jail; including invasion of privacy, fraud, grand larceny…even treason. To reduce his sentence, Monsegur entered a plea bargain, and turned informant. The #AntiSec hashtag became a middle finger to government agencies across the world, and now, it seems, the maestro was a police informant. However, one major question remains; was he simply informing on his fellow hackers, or was he actively enticing them to commit cybercrimes?

A recent feature in Gizmodo by Sam Biddle entitled “Was the AntiSec Hacking Spree an FBI Front?” attempts to answer just that. Biddle, clearly pandering to the hacker-friendly contingent of his readership, even goes so far as to insinuate that what Sabu was actually doing was entrapment. He calls Monsegur a “snitch” and a “traitor”, but also acknowledges that he was the, “mastermind behind the most popular, prolific internet destruction streak of modern memory.” Of course, the internet itself is in "modern memory", but semantic arguments aside, the #AntiSec campaign was an incredible feat for organizing criminal behavior. Monsegur capitalized on a common ideology among hackers; open access, and managed to motivate hundreds, if not thousands, to ever increasing risks by attacking government agencies, even defense contractors and cybersecurity firms.

Seizing on allegations made by the same online personalities that Sabu may have incriminated, Biddle lays out a timeline in which Monsegur is taken into police custody and, as part of a plea bargain, promises not to commit any more crimes. Weeks after this plea bargain, Sabu returns to the Twittersphere and announces the startup of #AntiSec. “The biggest, unified operation amongst hackers in history. All factions welcome. We are one.” From that moment on there were a series of cyberattacks that Sabu either participated in or supported in online forums. In this way it’s clear that Sabu did, indeed, betray his compatriots.

Here Biddle takes a turn for the dramatic, accusing Sabu of, “ferrying his followers into FBI surveillance, setting up thousands of Anonymous devotees for attacks he—and the government—knew about before their victims.” Really, the hackers are the “victims”? The reality is that, like terrorist organizations, the mob, and gangs; hackers fell prey to a time-honored tradition by the FBI. They caught one middle-to-high ranking criminal, turned him against his peers, and lured the rest into the light. Hackers should know this better than anyone; hacking a system only lasts as long as the system can’t protect itself or the rules change. For Biddle to decry the tactic as “trickery” and refer to the hackers now under surveillance as “victims” is to attempt to change the game halfway through.