Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

LulzSec Attacker Pleads Guilty To Sony Pictures Hack

Defendant agrees to pay restitution toward Sony's $600,000 data breach cleanup costs.

Alleged LulzSec hacker Raynaldo Rivera, 20, has pleaded guilty to one charge against him relating to an attack against the website of Sony Pictures Entertainment. According to authorities, Rivera operated online using the monikers "neuron," "royal," and "wildicv," and was part of the hacktivist group known as Lulz Security, or LulzSec.

The FBI arrested Rivera in August 2012, after a federal grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against him the same month. The indictment charged Rivera with conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. Both charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

In a plea agreement that he signed October 4, 2012, Rivera agreed to plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy, "with the object of the conspiracy being to intentionally cause damage without authorization to a protected computer," which involved a SQL injection attack against the Sony Pictures website, as well as the public release of hundreds of thousands of Sony customers' usernames and passwords.

[ Learn more about How Cybercriminals Choose Their Targets. ]

As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorneys' Office agreed to move to dismiss the unauthorized impairment of a protected computer charge against Rivera, provided he abides by the terms of the agreement. As part of the plea deal, Rivera also acknowledged that he "will be required to pay full restitution to the victim(s) of the offense to which [he] is pleading guilty." Rivera will also face a maximum of 5 years' imprisonment, a three-year supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 "or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest," according to court documents. As part of the plea bargain, however, the U.S. Attorneys' Office agreed to argue for a shorter jail sentence, provided Rivera takes responsibility for the conspiracy offense.

The ultimate amount of money that Rivera must repay could be substantial. According to court documents, "Sony Pictures suffered losses of approximately $605,663.67 during the one-year period beginning on approximately May 27, 2011, including to hire (sic) computer forensic firms, to staff call centers, and to provide credit monitoring services for individuals whose personal identifying information was compromised."

How was the attack executed? According to court documents, Rivera registered for a proxy service on or about May 23, 2011, "to attempt to hide his true Internet Protocol or 'IP' address from law enforcement while defendant engaged in criminal activity as part of LulzSec."

Then, between about May 27, 2011, and June 2, 2011, according to court documents, Rivera "knowingly caused the transmission of programs, information, codes, and commands, specifically, commands to execute a SQL injection attack against the computer systems of Sony Pictures," which also involved him "stealing confidential data contained on such systems, including personal identifying information for thousands of individuals."

After the attack, Rivera then "provided to members of LulzSec confidential information he had stolen from Sony Pictures' computer systems via the SQL injection attack." The official LulzSec Twitter feed, as well as the lulzsecurity.com website, were also used to publicize the attack, and provide links to the stolen Sony data. According to court documents, "from approximately late May through early June 2011, [Rivera] knowingly combined, conspired, and agreed with other members of LulzSec, including 'sabu,' 'topiary,' 't- flow,' 'kayla,' 'recursion,' 'pwnsauce,' 'joepie,' 'trollpoll,' and 'm_nerva,' to knowingly cause the transmission of codes and commands to the computer systems of Sony Pictures."

According to a Pastebin post uploaded at the same time by LulzSec, in which the group claimed credit for the Sony Pictures website attack, its members claimed to have obtained one million Sony website users' passwords, which had been stored in unencrypted format. "From a single injection, we accessed everything," according to the LulzSec statement. But it said that there had only been time to post 150,000 of the stolen usernames and passwords to the LulzSec website.

Unbeknownst to the LulzSec participants, the group's leader, Sabu, was then busted by two FBI agents on June 7, 2011. Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28, a.k.a. Sabu, immediately turned informer, working with authorities to gather evidence against LulzSec and Anonymous participants, as well as to help identify and patch a number of vulnerabilities in businesses' systems.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
PJS880
50%
50%
PJS880,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2012 | 2:43:47 PM
re: LulzSec Attacker Pleads Guilty To Sony Pictures Hack
So he gets a large fine and possible jail time with supervised released? How much money if any did Rivera make fro the information he gained buy attacking Sony pictures. If he did not profit at all from the attack then what exactly was the purpose of the attack? So I didn't catch it or not did Rivera turn informer also?

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
New 'Nanodegree' Program Provides Hands-On Cybersecurity Training
Nicole Ferraro, Contributing Writer,  8/3/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15820
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.6881, the markdown parser could disclose hidden file existence.
CVE-2020-15821
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.6881, a user without permission is able to create an article draft.
CVE-2020-15823
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.8873 is vulnerable to SSRF in the Workflow component.
CVE-2020-15824
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains Kotlin before 1.4.0, there is a script-cache privilege escalation vulnerability due to kotlin-main-kts cached scripts in the system temp directory, which is shared by all users by default.
CVE-2020-15825
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains TeamCity before 2020.1, users with the Modify Group permission can elevate other users' privileges.