NYT Profiles LulzSec's Sabu As Talented Hacker With Star-Crossed Life

Type threatpost
Reporter Brian Donohue
Modified 2013-04-17T20:05:37


Hector Xavier Monsegur or “Sabu,” de facto ringleader of the notorious Anonymous Internet Collective, was not merely a talented hacker. He was also something of a Robin Hood of the East Side projects and a hard-partying nuisance to his neighbors, a report by the New Yok Times claims.

A report finds that Monsegur’s neighbors complained (fruitlessly) to the housing project community board and the police alike about the 28 year-old’s constant partying and noise-making. The smell of Marijuana often wafted from his apartment where he reportedly dappled in drug-dealing to make ends meet. Among his regular visitors were his half-sister, several brothers, and a white pit-bull named China.

But the now-famous hacker, LulzSec member and FBI witness was also described as a dedicated guardian to his two cousins, whose mother was incarcerated. At least one neighbor described him as gracious. Another reported losing his wallet and having it returned by Monsegur, who found it and tracked the man down.

The Times reported that in addition to his adopted children, he lived with a number of other people. Monsegur even employed his hacking skill to raise the credit scores of certain neighbors. He worked briefly for a non-profit dedicated to improving government through technology where he was described by a coworker as friendly and competent.

His hacking, however, wasn’t always pro-bono or selfless. Monsegur admitted to hacking an auto-parts distributor and having them ship to him some $4,000 worth of car motors. He often used stolen credit card credentials to pay his bills. Hacking into a casino, selling marijuana, and spending $15,000 on the credit card of a former employer’s credit card were among the charges dropped in his plea agreement.

His past, the Times reports, was as troubled as his present. In 1997, his father and sister were arrested for selling heroin. Of Puerto Rican descent, Monsegur got into hacking around that time after becoming outraged with the U.S. Navy’s bombing exercises on the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques. It’s not clear when Monsegur began operating under the alias “Sabu,” a name he adopted from a wrestler in the (often violent) Extreme Championship Wrestling league that saw brief popularity throughout the 1990’s.

Neighbors and relatives say he became increasingly disruptive following the death of his grandmother a few years ago. It was around that time, as well, that Monsegur solidified his allegiance to Anonymous, inspired by the arrest of Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. He eventually spun-off from Anon to create LulzSec, a hacker group that claimed to be motivated by laughs rather than financial gain.

Authorities claim he was the most talented hacker of the group, despite being self-taught. The group’s main “rooter,” Monsegur was in charge of identifying vulnerabilities and developing exploit strategies for the group. In the end though, as is often the case, Monsegur sunk the Lulzboat with a couple amateur mistakes. He now faces 122 years in prison, though that will likely be shortened due to his cooperation in the investigation.