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6/28/2011
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LulzSec Members Apparently Outed

An anonymous post claims to put names to four of the group's six members, leading security experts to predict imminent arrests.

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Have some of the members of the LulzSec hacking group, behind website attacks against Sony, the CIA, the U.S. Senate, and others now been publicly named?

On Saturday, an anonymous post made to document-sharing website Pastebin named names, alleging that the core members of LulzSec are Sweden-based Daniel Ackerman Sandberg (aka Topiary), Iowa-based Wesley Bailey (aka Laurelai), New York-based EE or Eekdacat (no name, but an IP address provided), Britain-based Richard Fontaine (aka Uncommon), Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu), and Netherlands-based Sven Slootweg (aka Joepie91), amongst others.

The document's authors--who call themselves the A-Team--provided contact information for most of those people, though they said that they still lacked detailed information on LulzSec's leader, Sabu, as well as Kayla, who appeared to provide most of the botnets used in the group's attacks. The A-Team also alleged that Kayla was behind the Anonymous group's attack against HBGary as well.

There was no response to emails sent to Bailey, Fontaine, and Slootweg at the addresses provided in the Pastebin post.

Some of those handles and identities, however, had already been matched in anonymously posted documents, beginning in early June. According to LulzSec watchers, the leaking of chat logs led to at least two active members departing the group.

[Editor's note: After this story was published, both Bailey and Eekdacat contacted InformationWeek.com via email and denied being part of LulzSec. Eekdacat alleged that the anonymous post contained fabrications. Eekdacat also denied being part of any Anonymous-related activities during the past six months.]

Related law enforcement investigations are apparently underway. For example, a group called Backtrace Security has been hunting for LulzSec members since February, and assisting an FBI investigation since March, according to The New York Times. Backtrace Security has also published a roundup of LulzSec members' profiles and apparent motivations.

On Saturday, of course, LulzSec said it was ceasing operations. Security watchers say the move likely stems from the danger involved in the group continuing its activities. "Not surprisingly, they are quitting. Lulzsec members are feeling the heat and are busy avoiding arrest. As predicted, the end of Lulzsec was inevitable. During this [past] week they tried to cover up themselves in order to avoid arrest by: regrouping with anonymous, creating the 'antisec' operation, falsely claiming the UK census was hacked as a 'red herring,'" said Rob Rachwald, director of security strategy at Imperva, in a blog post.

"We believe that these efforts weren't successful--and we [will] soon hear about more arrests of LulzSec members," said Rachwald.

Anti-LulzSec groups have wasted no time in attacking LulzSec's legacy, commenting for example that LulzSec--aka gn0sis--may have been brazen, but the group doesn't appear to be especially skilled, especially since it hasn't hacked anything major since its Sony intrusion, which did expose one million passwords.

"From what we've seen these lulzsec/gn0sis kids aren't really that good at hacking," according to the A-Team post that contained the alleged identities of LulzSec members. "They troll the Internet and search for [SQL injection] vulnerabilities as well as Remote File Include/Local File Include bugs. Once found they try to download databases or pull down usernames and passwords. Their releases have nothing to do with their goals or their lulz. It's purely based on whatever they find with their 'Google hacking' queries and then release it."

For example, the group didn't exploit a strategic NATO website, but rather its bookshop. Ditto for the CIA's informational, public-facing homepage, and the Navy's jobs board. Despite the government ties, those sites didn't store state secrets.

The anonymous post makes another interesting point: LulzSec said it was railing against dishonest white-hat and gray-hat hackers who make a buck by capitalizing on businesses' security fears and ignorance. But LulzSec's hacking spree has arguably led more businesses to contract with security professionals of the type LulzSec claims to detest.

"What's funny to us is that these kids are all 'Anti-Security' yet by releasing their hacks they are forcing these companies to have to hire security professionals which keeps the Security Industry that they are trying to expose and shut down, in business," according to the post.

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