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‘I thought he was playing video games’: Teenager accused of masterminding Lapsus$ hacking group

‘We’re going to try to stop him from going on computers,’ his father reportedly says

Anthony Cuthbertson
Thursday 24 March 2022 18:40 GMT
<p>The Lapsus$ hacking group extorted millions of dollars from governments and companies</p>

The Lapsus$ hacking group extorted millions of dollars from governments and companies

A teenager who lives at home with his mum in Oxford has been accused of being the mastermind of the multi-million dollar hacking group Lapsus$.

The unnamed 16-year-old is alleged to have amassed $14 million through cyber criminal activities, which have included accessing sensitive company data from Microsoft, Samsung and Vodafone.

The Lapsus$ group specialised in stealing data from big technology firms and threatening to publish it online unless a large ransom was paid.

Cyber security researchers uncovered seven accounts linked to the group, according to Bloomberg, though labelled the Oxford teen as the suspected leader.

As recently as this week, Lapsus$ announced that it would release source code from Microsoft via its official channel on the chat app Telegram, which has more than 45,000 subscribers, however Microsoft said it had intercepted the cyber attack.

“This public disclosure escalated our action allowing our team to intervene and interrupt the actor mid-operation, limiting broader impact,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

“No customer code or data was involved in the observed activities. Our investigation has found a single account had been compromised, granting limited access. Microsoft does not rely on the secrecy of code as a security measure and viewing source code does not lead to elevation of risk.”

Security researcher Brian Krebs noted that Lapsus$ has been “recruiting insiders via multiple social media platforms since at least November 2021”, with rewards of up to $20,000 per week offered to anyone willing to perform “inside jobs”.

The family of the teenager suspected of leading the group was interviewed by the BBC, who said they were unaware of any illicit activities.

“He’s never talked about any hacking, but he is very good on computers and spends a lot of time on the computer. I always thought he was playing games,” his father said.

“We’re going to try to stop him from going on computers.”

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