The notorious hacker who helped the FBI bring down his worldwide empire is a martyr who took the rap for the crimes of his colleagues, a LulzSec member told FoxNews.com over beers at a Manhattan dive bar, just hours after learning the news about the shadowy figure known online as “Sabu.”
“People are freaking out. Everyone’s totally freaking out,” the hacker said. “Everyone’s in shock.”
While some see Sabu, whose real name is Hector Xavier Monsegur, as a Judas, it seemed that at least in the early shellshocked hours, Sabu’s followers remained loyal to their leader.
“Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sabu -- I mean of our generation, he’s going to remembered in history,” the LulzSec hacker said, nursing a beer hours after learning the organization had been dealt the cruelest blow of all. “No one is going to forget him. He’s going to be remembered in history.”
LulzSec is believed responsible for computer attacks that crippled banks, multi-national corporations and even governments. Fox, Sony and MasterCard were among its corporate scalps, and the international collective also mounted damaging attacks on servers of Yemen, Zimbabwe and even the CIA, taunting its targets from afar as it brought their websites down.
The hacker described the reactions of the stunned community as news of FoxNews.com’s report outing Sabu as a months-long cooperating witness reverberated online throughout the hacking community on Tuesday. The report detailed how Monsegur has worked for the feds for the last eight months, manipulating his minions with misinforming tweets, warning them off of targets and ultimately unmasking top lieutenants for authorities.Yet some of the hackers who have taken orders from him still believe in the 28-year-old welfare dad who lived in a housing project on New York’s Lower East Side.
In fact, the revered hacking honcho “took one for the team” by copping to hacks done by others, and some believe he even may have tried to warn his people as the FBI watched his every move, the hacker told FoxNews.com, while noting Monsegur "never warned anyone to my knowledge."
At the bar, the hacker explained how many in the community had come to this conclusion.
The immediate response of the community was to pore over Monsegur’s court records when they were unsealed, looking for clues. The long list of hacks he confessed to included attacks mounted by his legions, which some believed showed he was taking not just credit, but blame.
“He is taking one for the team, protecting the community by sacrificing himself,” the hacker said. “These were hacks that everyone did -- not Sabu. He admits to everything so the community is safe. That’s what a lot of people think.”
But even if Monsegur wasn’t directly responsible for some of LulzSec’s hacks, he always played a role. The hacker told FoxNews Sabu passed along links, provided real time assistance with hacks and gave specific directions.
“Sabu says, ‘Do this, do that,’” the hacker explained. “He did everything. He was our leader, so anything you wanted to do you had to get permission, Sabu’s approval.”
Since the guidance always came online, Sabu’s army of hackers knows it is likely their own identities may have been exposed through correspondence captured on Sabu’s FBI-controlled computer.
“Everyone talked to him,” the hacker said. “Everyone. Everyone is really scared.”
“People talked to him like this: ‘Okay, this is how I hacked X company. This is when I am going to hack X. This is the step-by-step of what I’m doing while hacking a system.’
“Sabu has all this (on servers),” the hacker said. “Or really, the FBI has all of this.”
Still reeling from the betrayal, hackers sifted through logs of Sabu's correspondence following his June 7 arrest. For the next 30 days, the cyberspace mastermind went dark, arousing suspicions he’d been found out by the feds. But he resurfaced on the web in August, just after entering a hushed-up guilty plea to charges of identity theft. None seemed to know he had been flipped, although his new BlackBerry aroused suspicion among some within the hacking community. From that point on, the group that struck fear in the hearts of corporations, banks and even governments, was being led by a turncoat.
On one blog, Sabu’s disciples claimed he had tried to warn his cohorts with a cryptic message: “You don't know who is your friend, don’t trust anybody,” he purportedly posted just before he took his plea deal.
Still, the hacking community isn’t unanimous in its view of Sabu. There is anger, fear and disbelief, hackers told FoxNews.com. When asked directly if the hacker was personally afraid of being connected to Sabu while he was working for the feds, the hacker took a swig of beer, and sighed.
“Yes,” the hacker said. “Yes I am.”