FBI arrests alleged NullCrew hacktivist

FBI arrests alleged NullCrew hacktivist

Summary: The FBI has arrested an alleged member of the NullCrew hacktivist group following cyberattacks on businesses and universities.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Security
11
Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 10.09.03

The US Department of Justice has charged a man who allegedly participated in high-profile cyberattacks against corporations, universities and government agencies.

In a statement released Wednesday, the DoJ said Timothy French, 20, was arrested in Tennessee last week and is being charged with "federal computer hacking for allegedly conspiring to launch cyber attacks on two universities and three companies" as part of the hacktivist collective called NullCrew.

Through these attacks, thousands of account names and passwords were stolen and published online.

While the DoJ has not released the names of the companies, universities and governmental bodies that were targeted, the agency said that in one case, a successful cyberattack launched by NullCrew resulted in over 3,000 usernames, email addresses and passwords belonging to a foreign government’s ministry of defense to be released on the web. According to NullCrew's claims in 2012, the United Kingdom was the target.

The law enforcement agency says social media sites and Skype are frequent tools used by NullCrew to select targets, organize cyberattacks and declare successful campaigns. Twitter, for example, is often used to link to PasteBin files containing data dumps — information acquired after breaching a target's security.

If found guilty of his role in NullCrew hacktivist campaigns, French faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

In a statement, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary T. Fardon said:

Cybercrime sometimes involves new-age technology but age-old criminal activity — unlawful intrusion, theft of confidential information, and financial harm to victims. Hackers who think they can anonymously steal private business and personal information from computer systems should be aware that we are determined to find them, to prosecute pernicious online activity, and to protect cybervictims.

Following the arrest, a member of NullCrew released a statement on PasteBin taunting French and lamenting the presence of "skids" — script kiddies — within the group. A reference is also made to the case of Sabu, who turned informer as part of the LulzSec hacking crew. Despite facing up to 26 years behind bars for his role in cyberattacks against high-profile targets — including Sony, Nintendo and news outlets — his cooperation with the FBI allowed him to walk free from jail.

"Don't let just any asshole in the crew, and don't give them the keys to the fucking kingdom," the member said. "The FBI got someone to get you fuckers, and you deserved it. I've already taken care of that little problem — if it walks like Sabu and talks like Sabu..."

The NullCrew statement also described how law enforcement agencies may have tracked down the alleged member, as well as one more member who has not been confirmed by the FBI:

I told that fucking idiot Timmy (c0rps3, Orb1t_G1rl, rootcrysis) that his dox was too easy to find and provided ways for him to escape it. He obviously didn’t. And Dominik (thebinkyp, zer0pwn, phlex, nop_nc, docofcocks, theindigator, NULL), you seemed to think that no one would ever find your old aliases? Maybe you’ve never seen the hackforums dump that showed thebinkyp = zer0pwn? Maybe you deserved to get fucking burned for being on hackforums in the first place?

Next, your OpSec was fucking horrendous. Don't launch attacks from your home IPs, skidlets! Don't log into our compromised servers from your home IPs! Fucking get a clue, get a fucking VPN! Doxxing these two morons was super simple, which explains why the FBI could do it. Did you really think they wouldn’t subpoena Skype, fucking told you Timmy.

Topic: Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I don't really believe "hacktivist" is a correct term.

    "FBI arrests alleged NullCrew hacktivist"

    I don't really believe "hacktivist" is a correct term for anybody or anything. It implies hacking is some form of activism - which it really isn't.
    CobraA1
    • I agree: they are only "activists" for anarchy.

      Despite possibly (?) being on opposite ends of the left-right spectrum, the "hacktivist" crowd uses the same tactics, and their ideology has the same end result, as the "sovereign citizen" idiots being misled by Cliven Bundy (for non-US readers, this is the guy who assembled his own anti-US "militia" in the Nevada desert, claiming that despite renting grazing rights from the owner of the land, the US government, and running up a million dollar rental tab, he should have the "right" to graze for FREE because the US government isn't "legal" in the opinion of his companions). Both are claiming that governments established by the people of a country have "zero authority" over THEM because they disagree with one or more positions of a government. That is the dictionary definition of "anarchism," a belief that no government is ever morally justified. And the related CONDITION of "anarchy" is a situation in which no one but the strong and powerful have any rights, because there is no constituted authority to deny the strong and powerful complete freedom to trample the rights of others. But the CONDITION of anarchy, when it occurs, only lasts until one of the strong and powerful factions defeats the others and BECOMES a de facto government.

      If someone is opposed to some SPECIFIC governmental action, and takes individual action (or group action) to disobey THAT SPECIFIC policy, being willing to take the legal punishment to draw attention to that law's evil nature, THAT is activism by civil disobedience. Just disobeying ALL laws and claiming NONE of them are morally good is nothing but selfishness. The organized crime gangs who rob banks are doing the same evil that some banks do, not speaking out against that evil. The Freedom Riders and sit-in demonstrators of the 1960s did NOT assault other citizens, take their property away, or rob banks and stores; they peacefully disobeyed the EVIL laws requiring people of their racial group to be segregated from others.
      jallan32
      • Cliven Bundy

        I live in a relatively small city (about 30,000 people) in the middle of an otherwise rural county not terribly far from where Cliven Bundy lives and I can tell you that while I'm not all all sympathetic to his position, a lot of people are (to include an organic farmer I know). And a primary election is upon us, we have an upswing in extreme anti-federalist rhetoric from our local officials, which will probably die down after next week.

        But the underlying problem is that rural areas have become politically irrelevant (partially due to some Supreme Court decisions made in the 1960s, partly due to changing residential patterns, and partly due to the attitudes of urban and suburban voters) and their inhabitants have become increasingly marginalized. The Democratic Party has not seriously contested elections around here (with few exceptions) since at least the 1960s and the Republicans take this area for granted because they know they're going to win no matter what they do. The consequence is that the concerns of rural voters tend to be ignored, making them easy game for political extremists who at least pay attention to them.

        I actually consider myself an environmentalist, but I've gotten to see some of the effects of well-intentioned policies formulated by activists and politicians who live in cities and suburbs will little or no input from the rural residents who are most affected by those policies. I'm all in favor of minimizing human impact on wildlife, but small farmers and ranchers (among others) still have to make a living and the profit margins aren't exactly fat.

        I really don't want to go back to the rural-dominated state legislatures of the past, but would it really hurt to have one house apportioned on the basis of geography so that both parties are forced to take rural areas seriously? It it's even all right if that house only has the power to force bills passed by the popular chamber to be submitted to referendum, but something really needs to be done to make sure rural interests are taken seriously if the swamp of extremism is to be drained.
        John L. Ries
        • The Real Story

          First of all the Federal Government owns 90% off the land in Nevada, 80% of Utah, and many Western States are fighting back. There is no constitutional authority by which they can take this land from the states. The EPA frequently brings up false claims of some endangered animal or plant-life as an excuse to take the land. The farmers are fed up and where exactly are they to let their cattle graze ? Paying these fees are a form of extortion. The Feds can take land for primarily historical purposes but for the most part the land belongs to the states whom have sovereignty over the Federal Government. We live in a Republic after-all.

          The Feds came in armed to the hilt and they got a hold of his cattle and killed a number of them. For a government that claims to be environmentally-friendly this is hypocrisy. There was no need to do this. Why didn't they detain the cattle without killing them ?

          Cliven Bundy did not "form anti-US" militias. Militias that have been in existence for decades from many other states came to his rescue. Ladies and Gentlemen we came close to another revolution. I had fun watching Uncle Sam back down and scurry away. It was fun watching the cowboys on horses face off the demons with their high-tech vehicles.

          The US Government is a big bully now. What was this really about ? Follow the money. Harry Reid was going to hand over all this land to a Chinese Energy Company so they could build giant solar farm and pocket a cool $5 million for himself. We were told this was about some endangered turtle. What a farce ! Sorry Reid....tell your Chinese buddies they will have to look elsewhere.

          Reid is corrupt to the core. This is the kind of guy we need to boot out of office this November. I don't know about you people but I am tired of the power-hungry politicians.
          pizzaman7
          • A deal is a deal

            Utah and most other western states surrendered claim to the public lands within their borders when when they were admitted to the union. In the case of Utah, the provision is in the very first paragraph of the 1896 constitution, together with the provision forbidding the legalization of polygamy (still in effect, and yes, I have read it). It could be argued that those conditions were and are unconstitutional, but in that case, the proper thing to do is for the affected states to sue the Interior Department. State laws providing for the seizure of federally held lands through eminent domain would be laughable were it not for the very real threat that someday federal employees administering those lands might be arrested, tried, and jailed for doing their jobs. Such laws are pure posture moves designed to curry favor with the radical right; they are neither necessary nor desirable (even if one thinks it unconstitutional for the feds to hold those lands).

            And no, Bundy didn't organize those militias, but they did come perilously close to committing treason (making war on the United States). Bundy doesn't have to recognize federal authority over the lands it holds if he doesn't want to, but he still signed a contract with the federal government and is legally bound to observe its terms (after all, the BLM did its part by letting his cattle graze on public lands). If he thinks the contract is unenforceable, then he should sue (I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be happy to help him hire a lawyer).

            Sen. Reid is, of course, responsible to the people of Nevada, who will have an opportunity to pass judgement upon him in the near future.
            John L. Ries
          • And yes...

            ...Bundy lives in Nevada, but I'm under the impression that Nevada made the same deal with the feds with regard to public lands that Utah did (I live in Utah).
            John L. Ries
  • Expect A Lot More of These Reports

    Government security agencies the world over are looking for ways of justifying their hoovering of everyone's data.

    The reports will probably blow out of proportion the significance of the person they catch.

    It's a simple technique. Magicians and pickpockets to it all the time. With one hand grab a person's attention and with the other hand steal their valuables.
    Pronounce
    • How is that relevant to the article?

      Are you suggesting that "hactivism" of the sort French was arrested for should be legal? Or that his arrest is simply a tactic to draw attention away from official misconduct (but even so, is it not the job of the Justice Department to enforce the law)?
      John L. Ries
      • It isn't JLR

        He just saw an empty soapbox and just had to jump up on it to say his piece. Um, wanna bet that if we were to check all the blogs that we would find him posting the same thing in other places too?
        Or maybe that is his version of activism? or did he hack into the blog and it is his version of hacktivism? Don't think too hard on that one. ;->
        Putertechn
  • Politically motivated vandalism...

    ...is still vandalism; it's not activism of any sort.
    John L. Ries
  • Here's more

    http://www.dailydot.com/crime/nullcrew-timothy-french-arrest-bell-canada/
    Gisabun