Three members of hacker collective LulzSec were arrested this morning and two more were being charged with conspiracy, reportedly based on intelligence from LulzSec's former leader who is now cooperating with the FBI. According to Fox News, Hector Xavier Monsegur (better known by as Sabu) was arrested by the FBI last June and began working as an undercover witness after pleading guilty to more than ten hacking-related charges on August 15th of last year. Since then, he's been working out of the FBI's offices and maintaining his same online persona as the leader of LulzSec. However, the FBI watches and coordinates all of Monsegur's communications, and even reached out to targeted sites before LulzSec attacks. Monsegur also engaged in FBI-led misdirection: one of his handlers reportedly said that "about 90 percent of what you see online [Monsegur's tweets and online interviews] is bull****."
All of this undercover work has led to today's arrests and charges on five men: one from Chicago, two from Great Britain, and two from Ireland. Four of the five are being charged in a conspiracy case filed in New York, and the member from Chicago is also reportedly being charged as the leader behind December's hack on US global security intelligence firm Stratfor. The FBI is feeling pretty positive about these arrests as well: an unnamed official was quoted as saying "this is devastating to the organization. We're chopping off the head of LulzSec."
These arrests come just days after 25 hackers believed to be part of Anonymous were arrested across Europe and South America; members believed that spies and informants were behind this arrest, though there's no evidence that Monsegur's undercover work for the FBI had anything to do with these separate arrests.While it isn't clear what effect these recent arrests will have on LulzSec and Anonymous, one thing is for certain: the US government is taking these groups seriously, and intends to fight back. Even the language the FBI is using makes it sound like the government views these hacker groups like terrorist cells rather than a bunch of computer hackers.