Arrests of LulzSec and Anonymous members leads to claims that leader was an FBI informant
Arrests of LulzSec and Anonymous members leads to claims that leader was an FBI informant

An Arizona man, alleged to have been part of the hacktivist group LulzSec, has been charged with conspiracy and unauthorised impairment of a protected computer in the US.

Raynaldo Rivera, 20, of Tempe, Arizona, surrendered himself to US authorities in Phoenix, six days after a federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned an indictment accusing him and co-conspirators of stealing information from the Sony Pictures computer systems last year and helping to post the confidential information onto LulzSec's website and announcing the intrusion via its Twitter account.

According to the Telegraph, while Rivera was the only person named in the indictment, the FBI said his co-conspirators included fellow Arizona man Cody Kretsinger, who pleaded guilty in April to federal charges stemming from his role in the Sony attack.

Both men have been charged with conspiracy and the unauthorised impairment of a protected computer using an SQL injection attack against the site. Both face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted, with Kretsinger, who pleaded guilty to the same two charges now facing Rivera, expected to be sentenced on 25th October.

The attack on Sony Pictures in June 2011 saw more than one million users' personal information compromised, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth and all Sony opt-in data associated with their accounts.

It also claimed to have compromised all admin details of Sony Pictures (including passwords), along with 75,000 ‘music codes' and 3.5 million ‘music coupons'. The LulzSec statement said that it was able to access everything from a single SQL injection and that "every bit of data we took wasn't encrypted", as Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plain text.

It was announced last week that former LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as ‘Sabu', had been given a six-month reprieve from sentencing due to his continued cooperation with law enforcement.

Monsegur pleaded guilty on 15th  August 2011 in a US District Court to 12 counts of computer hacking conspiracies and other crimes, including the hacking of Fox Broadcasting Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Charges have also been made over the attacks on Fine Gael, a political party in Ireland, and on security firms HBGary and its affiliate HBGary Federal, and Stratfor.

report by Fox News claimed that the arrests were largely made based on evidence gathered by Monsegur, with sources saying he has been secretly working for the US government for months as a cooperating witness.