LulzSec Hacktivist Sentenced in Federal Criminal Case
Political hacktivist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced recently to 10 years in federal prison for his hand in several attacks on large government related websites. The sentence has been criticized by many as being excessively harsh.
Hammond, who had used the moniker Anarchaos while in the hacker group LulzSec, was most notable for the hacking of Strategic Forecasting (aka Stratfor). The breach resulted in 5.2 million emails becoming publicized. At least 50,000 of the affected accounts belonged to government employees. In addition to private emails, account information such as passwords and credit card numbers were also leaked to the public.
In his sentencing statement, Hammond adamantly claims that the actions he took were an attempt to raise awareness of injustices that were going on behind the scenes. According to the Huffington Post, one of the leaks resulted in light being shed on a scheme played by intelligence contractors. In the scheme, attempts were being made to link journalist Alexa O'Brien to al-Qaeda.
With the reckless nature of the hacking, including 60,000 compromised credit cards, it is difficult to determine if the acts of whistleblowing were the driving motivation for the attacks or if the exposure was just a byproduct of more malicious behavior.
The words of one of the documents published by the LulzSec group said, "We almost have sympathy for those poor DHS employees and australian billionaires who had their bank accounts looted." It continues, "But what did you expect? All our lives we have been robbed blindly and brutalized by corrupted politicians, establishmentarians and government agencies sex shops, and now it's time to take it back."
The document goes on to list several download mirrors where the public can acquire the passwords and credit card numbers associated with the hack.
Hammond questions whether or not his goals could have been achieved through legal means. Hammond wrote, "I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of it’s own citizens or the international community."
It is likely that the 10 year sentence made by Judge Preska also took into consideration his previous run-ins with the law. Hammond was convicted of hacking Protest Warrior in 2005. Hammond claims that his actions in this case were also in the name of activism.
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