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Police accuse Reuters hack of helping Anonymous hackers

Social media editor aided Tribune defacement

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The Department of Justice has charged the deputy social media editor of Reuters with helping hackers from Anonymous gain access to the main servers of the Tribune Company in 2010 so that they could deface news sites.

Matthew Keys, 26, is accused 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. In the worst case, he could be facing 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines if found guilty.

The DOJ claims Keys met with members of Anonymous in an online forum in December 2010 and gave them a user name and password for servers at KTXL FOX 40, where he had worked as a web editor. This gave them access to Tribune Company servers, and the hackers went on to make changes on the Los Angeles Times website.

According to the indictment, when Keys was told about the hack, he replied, "nice." He then gave more help to one of the attackers who had been locked out by Tribune system administrators, and "encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website," the DOJ states.

Reuters, Keys' current employer, has said that it is investigating the case, but pointed out that the alleged events took place before Keys joined its organization. "Any legal violations, or failures to comply with the company's own strict set of principles and standards, can result in disciplinary action," said a spokesman.

The spokesman said that Reuters will make no further comment while the court case is ongoing, while Keys himself says it's business as usual. ®

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