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At least one member of NullCrew was also secretly an FBI informant.
The FBI has arrested a man who allegedly played a key role in attacks perpetrated by hacktivist group NullCrew.
Timothy French, 20, will be tried in Chicago for his alleged role in breaching the email servers of Bell Canada and the University of Virginia, as well as other hacks, though he was arrested in his native Tennessee.
The case bears some striking similarities to that of the Anonymous splinter group AntiSec, which hacked the intelligence firm Stratfor and leaked its customers’ email addresses and credit card information. Principal hacker Jeremy Hammond was caught by the FBI and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison, and it was later revealed that the hacker he took orders from, Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, had been an FBI informant. French is charged, as Hammond was, with violating the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Similarly, the complaint against French shows that though he encrypted his communications, at least one member of NullCrew was also secretly an FBI informant, though that person’s identity is not yet public.
According to the complaint, the FBI had interviewed him in person in 2011 a hack on a community college; the FBI believes French was responsible but he was never charged. In that interview, French allegedly admitted he used the online nickname “c0rps3.” That nickname was openly reported to be part of NullCrew’s major attack of Comcast’s mail servers in February.
French faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Photo via Average Jane (CC BY 2.0)
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.