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article imageReuters journalist Matthew Keys indicted in Anonymous hacks

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 15, 2013 in Crime
A US Department of Justice Department statement released Thursday says Matthew Keys, 26, a Thomson Reuters social media editor and former web producer for the Tribune Company, was charged in the Eastern District of Calif. for conspiring with Anonymous.
Key's involvement with Anonymous was revealed by a former Anonymous collective member "Sabu" who became an informant for the FBI following arrest last year.
According to the statement by the US Department of Justice, the Reuters web producer was indicted in a California district court for conspiring with hackers affiliated with Anonymous and passing to them between December 10 and December 15, 2010, usernames and passwords to access the computer server of the Tribune Company after he was fired from his job at the Tribune Company owned KTXL Fox 40 in Sacramento, California.
After he had handed over the log-in credentials to the hackers, he urged them to "go f**k some s**t up."
According to a federal indictment (PDF) obtained by The Huffington Post, Keys, under the username "AESCracked," used a chat room "InternetFeds" to pass the information to the Anonymous hackers.
The Justice Department states that Keys identified himself on the Internet chat forum frequented by hackers affiliated with Anonymous as a former Tribune Company employee. The indictment (PDF states that one of the hackers under the name "Sharpie," used the credentials to access the Tribune Company Server and altered a Los Angeles Times news story published online on December 14, 2010.
"Sharpie" changed the headline of a story published in the Los Angeles Times news site from "Pressure builds in House to pass tax-cut package" to "Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337." He also altered the introduction to the story "reluctant House Democrats are feeling the heat to pass it," to "House Democrats told to SUCK IT UP."
According to the indictment (PDF), when "Sharpie" later told Keys about the changes he had made, Keys said "nice."
The Los Angeles Times web producer Morgan Little, tweeted a screenshot of the page that was hacked (see below). The image of the hacked story was posted to Reddit.
Anonymous: Hacked Los Angeles Times story
Anonymous: Hacked Los Angeles Times story
Reddit
Later, when "Sharpie" told Keys that the credentials they used to access the server had been disabled and that they had been locked out, Keys attempted to gain access but could not. He told the hackers: "I’m locked out for good."
It turned later turned out that "Sharpie" was the same as "Sabu," a 28-year-old New Yorker with the name Hector Xavier Monsegur. He was arrested by the FBI in June 2011 and worked with them as an informant assisting in the arrest of several members of LulzSec and Antisec.
The Guardian reports that Keys was first identified as "AESCracked" in a June 2012 book We Are Anonymous. An article published by Gawker in March 2011 also revealed that Keys had infiltrated Anonymous.
Keys responded to the Gawker article that identified him as a journalist who had infiltrated Anonymous through a post to his personal blog:
I identified myself as a journalist during my interaction with the top-level Anonymous hackers and at no time did I offer said individuals any agreement of confidentiality. In fact, I asked several of them for their feelings should they be exposed. They seemed, by and large, indifferent.
In a March 2012 article for Reuters, Keys said that after the "InternetFeds" chart room as closed down, Sabu contacted him. He said he told Sabu that he had screenhots of the chatroom conversations, including the conversations making references to the Los Angeles Times hack. Sabu, alarmed that Keys could expose him and Anonymous issued threats. According to Keys: "He [Sabu] said he would try to destroy the reputation of anyone who might expose him or ruin his reputation or that of Anonymous. He'd release personal information about any individual whom he considered his enemy or Anonymous' enemy. He'd steal their credit card information and charge hundreds of dollars in charitable donations. He'd invent stories so as to discredit any whistleblower or hacker-turned-informant."
RT reports that on March 22, 2011, Sabu fulfilled his threat by tweeting that Keys gave them access to the Tribune Company server. The FBI later arrested Sabu in June. After his arrest, he confirmed to the FBI that Keys had helped them hack the Tribune Company server.
According to The Huffington Post, Keys, a social media expert, used the popular Twitter handle @ProducerMatthew.
The Guardian reports he is charged with "one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, transmitting information to damage a protected computer and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer."
The Huffington Post reports that Reuters spokeswoman Barb Burg, said the news service was reviewing the matter but pointed out that, "The indictment alleges the conduct occurred in December 2010, which is more than one year before Mr. Keys joined Reuters."
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