Arrested hacker spared 26-year sentence after helping stop 300 cyber attacks

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a hacker to seven months jail time that he already served for helping disrupt about 300 cyber attacks on government and business websites since his arrest in 2011.

Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York spared Hector Xavier Monsegur a 26-year sentence on the recommendation of prosecutors that he be given leniency for helping the FBI prevent the hacking of websites of the military, Congress and several corporations. Among the hacking targets were NASA, a television network, a security firm, a video game manufacturer and a water utility for an American city, according to prosecutors.

Monsegur also was freed for revealing actual and purported vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and turning FBI informer to identify other wanted hackers, said James Pastore, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The co-founder and former leading member of the LulzSec hacktivist group cooperated with the FBI to identify, prosecute and convict eight of his accomplices, including formerly most wanted cyber criminal Jeremy Hammond, who attacked the Stratfor security think tank in 2011.

Monsegur joined forces with Anonymous hackers to form LulzSec in 2011 and they attacked the servers of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, the Public Broadcasting Service and the U.S. Senate. In 2010, he attacked the websites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal over their refusal to process donations to the whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks.

Preska ordered a year of supervised release for Monsegur during which he would have to avoid crimes, drugs, and weapons. She also ordered a key logger installed on his computer.

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