The war against computer piracy has its first “reformed informant.” In America, they are actually thinking about reducing the sentence of one of the most dangerous hackers of the past few years, who was also affiliated with Anonymous. The reason? As has emerged from the trial records, kept secret until now, Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known by his online alias “Sabu,” helped the authorities dismantle a particularly aggressive cell of that organization. His contribution, having emerged among documents perused by The New York Times, was crucial to allowing the FBI and special cyberspace units to stop at least 300 cyberattacks in the last two years. These attacks targeted the heart of public and private institutions, from the United States Army to Congress, the federal courts to NASA, and all kinds of businesses and companies listed on Wall Street.
Ultimately, Monsegur was and is a true collaborator of justice. Judges defined his cooperation with investigators as “extraordinary.” And like any “reformed” criminal who respects himself, he has a secret life guaranteed by the feds, who monitor his safety and that of his family. Nobody knows where he lives, and he has probably been given a new identity. Moreover, the former criminal of the Web made it possible for the FBI to catch the number-one hacker in America, at the top of the wanted list, Jeremy Hammond, the undisputed boss of Anonymous, who is now in prison serving a 10-year sentence of isolation. This was a slap in the face that his former colleague’s in the organization have not forgiven: An invasive network of insults and threats to Monsegur prompted the authorities to put him under protection. The verdict of his trial is expected within a week from the federal district court in Manhattan.
The accusations are serious, from conspiracy to other, lesser charges, which would likely mean many years in prison, but if the sentence were really reduced, as his lawyers and many others have requested, this would not only be setting a precedent, but also paving the way for a new strategy to make the fight against cybercrime more effective. Thus, the “collaborators of justice” could increase their numbers. Of course, Anonymous and the many armies of hackers out there would not welcome a development of this kind.