The real Sabu
He was one of the world's foremost hackers...until he betrayed his friends to the FBI. Kevin Rawlinson recounts his personal interactions with Sabu.
“Message from Sabu”, said a small bubble in the bottom corner of the screen.
It sat there, flashing orange, indicating that the leader of LulzSec had finally responded to repeated attempts to make contact. In a rare interview with The Independent, he would threaten further hacking attacks, announce he would target journalists and media organisations and promise to expose those he denounced as “charlatans”.
It was late June 2011. Three weeks earlier, FBI agents had first knocked on Hector Xavier Monsegur’s door. Though nobody knew it at the time, he had already taken the first steps down the road which would eventually lead to the betrayal of some of those closest to him.
This week, it emerged that he later pleaded guilty to 12 charges of computer hacking and subsequently spent months secretly working for the FBI.
During the interview, he was curt and cagey – perhaps understandably. He seemed condescending towards anyone who was not a “hacktivist”, as well as to many who were. The resulting picture was of an intelligent man who also seemed vain. Other people using his favourite chatroom seemed in awe of him.
“Let me see your questions,” he fired back when the idea of an interview was first raised. Sabu was reluctant to get into an open conversation, saying: “We’re not talking over the phone.” Instead, he used the interview to insist he was not worried about repeated attempts by rival hackers to “dox” him – discover his real identity.
Asked if he was having sleepless nights over the issue, he was dismissive. “Not at all. they have hit me with 6 or 7 different identities. thats proof that I’m not worried,” he said.
That conversation, the first of a series, came the day after his hacking group LulzSec had announced its intention to disband. Monsegur alone knew what lay ahead. But he was doing a good job of covering it up. In the future, he said, “We’ll be focussing on corruption in governments and banks but will also be targeting journalists. the change is merely from lulz to more polotical. we’ll work in the same fashion...”
Monsegur formed LulzSec in May 2011. Within weeks he had become both the most recognisable name in the “hacktivism” movement – and later its most valuable FBI informant.
“He definitely had a fanbase,” said one hacker yesterday. “But it consisted mostly of people who don’t actually do much themselves. He was perceived as a ‘master hacker’, whether he was or not I don’t know, but that was probably what made him popular. That, and he adopted some of the same values as LulzSec; the ‘for the lulz [laughs]’ attitude.”
With the benefit of hindsight, there are those who have claimed they knew – or at least suspected – that Sabu had been turned. “He was not welcome here, we had suspicions about him. His behaviour changed, it seemed strange,” one hacker said yesterday.
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Alton Towers closed after horror crash on The Smiler raises safety questions for theme park
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...