Gawker Attacker Turned FBI Informant, Pursued Other Hackers

Unsealed court documents reveal that "Eekdacat" hacked Gawker, but related charges were dropped after the hacker helped the FBI nab other hackers.

an IP address for Eekdacat, which the complaint said traced to a cable modem account registered to Madden's residence in Troy, N.Y.

Interestingly, the A-Team document -- released the same day that LulzSec announced it was ceasing operations -- identified LulzSec leader Sabu as being one Hector Xavier Monsegur, which also turned out to be accurate.

But not all the information in document was accurate. It incorrectly said that the LulzSec spokesman known as Topiary was a Swedish man named Daniel Ackerman Sandberg. "The FBI were actually hunting someone from Sweden about a week before I was arrested, determined that he was Topiary," Jake Davis, the British then-teenager who was arrested on June 27, 2011, and later pleaded guilty to having been Topiary, said in an ongoing Q&A session. "In fact, there's an FBI search warrant somewhere that says in no uncertain terms that agents thought Topiary was this guy from Sweden. A real farce, probably bolstered in its falsity by Sabu."

After InformationWeek published a story on June 28, 2011, that detailed the A-Team's document, Wesley Bailey -- an Iowa man accused of being LulzSec member "Laurelai" -- emailed in response to a request for comment: "Im not part of lulzsec." (An Army network administrator named Wesley Bailey was later cited as being Laurelai by Parmy Olson in her 2012 book We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency.)

Also on June 28, Eekdacat responded to an emailed request for comment from InformationWeek -- since the A-Team document accused Eekdacat of having participated in the hack of HBGary and helped to release the Gawker data -- with the following statement, sent via Hushmail:

    The "anonymous post" referred to in your article is the result of one hacker targeting another and those around him. This person attempted to tie the handles of friends of a person, myself included, to known members of Lulz Security in an attempt to publicly assassinate their characters.

    I have never been a part of any of the recent Anonymous-related activities over the past six months, including but not limited to Operation Payback, AnonOps, or Lulz Security. Additionally, I was not involved in the attack on Gawker Media and have no knowledge with regards to the methods or exploits involved in obtaining user data.

    Should the authorities wish to conduct their own investigation into the information posted, I am entirely willing to comply with their requests. However, please do not sensationalize one person's feud, as your article has only been stoking the flames.

Likewise, Eekdacat took to Twitter to publicly deny the alleged LulzSec association. "Apparently this whole #lulzsec connection rumor started from some rogue irc channel admin #awkward," he said.

Given Madden's alleged LulzSec participation, what's not clear is whether his arrest was due in any way to Monsegur, who was arrested three weeks earlier. Monsegur quickly pleaded guilty to the charges filed against him and turned government informant.

Three years later, while many other LulzSec and Anonymous hackers are now serving time -- Davis served his time and has been released -- Monsegur's sentencing has been repeatedly delayed by Department of Justice prosecutors "in light of the defendant's ongoing cooperation," according to court documents.

Last week, his sentencing was delayed for the seventh time since his arrest, though a related hearing has been scheduled for May 27. Last month, The New York Times detailed claims that, after Monsegur began working for the FBI and was monitored by the bureau around the clock, he coordinated hundreds of attacks against foreign websites.

Cyber-criminals wielding advanced persistent threats have plenty of innovative techniques to evade network and endpoint defenses. It's scary stuff, and ignorance is definitely not bliss. How to fight back? Think security that's distributed, stratified, and adaptive. Read our Advanced Attacks Demand New Defenses report today (free registration required).

Editors' Choice
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading