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3/18/2013
12:25 PM
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Anonymous Investigators Probe Reuters Reporter, Sabu

Feds indict Reuters social media editor for allegedly helping hacktivist group Anonymous -- and LulzSec leader Sabu -- deface the Los Angeles Times website.

Keys, who's the deputy social media editor for Reuters, said he first learned of the federal indictment against him Thursday. "I am fine. I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I'm going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual," he said via Twitter.

Reportedly, Keys has since been suspended, and Reuters released a statement saying that "any legal violations, or failures to comply with the company's own strict set of principles and standards, can result in disciplinary action." A Reuters spokesman has also noted that the indictment cited behavior that allegedly occurred in December 2010, when Keys was working as a freelancer, and that Keys only joined Reuters in 2012. Finally, a Reuters reporter said Friday that Keys' workstation had already been dismantled and his security pass revoked.

Keys previously detailed some of his chat-room interactions with Anonymous members, including Sabu, in a Reuters blog posted on March 7, 2012. He said he'd begun researching the hacktivists after they launched Operation Payback attacks against PayPal and other websites that they deemed to be interrupting the flow of donations to WikiLeaks.

In the post, he said that following a leak from the #InternetFeds IRC channel -- a screenshot of government usernames and passwords posted to the channel was released to PBS NewsHour -- Sabu and Chronom started a new IRC channel in January 2011, then put all potential participants to the test, "usually involving committing some sort of computer crime," to prove that they weren't a law enforcement agent.

Keys apparently refused to participate, and told Sharpie that he'd been collecting screenshots of #InternetFeds discussions -- so that the text couldn't be refuted -- and had leaked some of that information to PBS NewsHour. Sabu later took to Twitter to denounce AESCracked, saying that he'd been behind the Los Angeles Times defacement. Interestingly, the FBI's investigation into Keys began in 2010, after a Fox 40 producer received an anonymous email saying that the station's email contact list was in the emailer's possession, according to an FBI affidavit, reported The Huffington Post. The producer, who had fired Keys two months prior, identified Keys as a potential suspect for that leak.

The producer also told the FBI that Keys, who had been in charge of the station's Facebook and Twitter accounts, had refused to hand over control of the social media accounts after being fired, and changed the passwords and deleted about 6,000 followers from the station's Twitter account, until the producer regained control of the accounts about four days later. The producer also said Keys said that he "had access to future Anonymous operations including operations against PayPal, Amazon, the Los Angeles Times, Fox News and others," according to the affidavit.

Protect the most fragile part of your IT infrastructure -- the endpoints and the unpredictable users who control them. Also in the new, all-digital How To Sharpen Endpoint Security special issue of Dark Reading: Some say the focus should be on education to deal with the endpoint security conundrum; some say technology. But it's not a binary choice. (Free with registration.)

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