Feeds

FBI arrests claims NullCrew hacker in Tennessee takedown

Stool pigeon fooled hackers into self-incrimination

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The FBI has arrested a Tennessee man on computer crime charges, claiming he is a key player in the NullCrew hacking squad that attacked businesses and educational institutions from 2012 onwards.

Court filings claim Timothy Justin French, 20, is known online as "Orbit", and took part in hacking attacks against two US universities and three telecommunications and media companies in the US and Canada that were carried out by members of the NullCrew team.

NullCrew came to the attention of the authorities in 2012 after a successful attack against the World Health Organization and PBS, which resulted in email addresses and passwords being posted online on Pastebin.

The group, thought to be an offshoot of the Anonymous hacking collective, has since carried out a number of similar attacks, including a successful intrusion into serves run by the Department of Homeland Security last year.

According to the FBI, a "confidential witness" engaged members of the NullCrew team in conversation on Skype, Twitter, and the encrypted messaging system Cryptocat, and won their trust. These conversations included discussions on past and future attacks and the sharing of vulnerabilities used in the attacks.

Based on this information, the FBI tracked the IP address of one of the computers used in five attacks as well as during online attacks with the Fed's stool pigeon, and linked it to French's address in Tennessee. He was arrested without incident and is being held in custody ahead of charges, which will be filed in Chicago.

"Cyber crime sometimes involves new-age technology but age-old criminal activity ― unlawful intrusion, theft of confidential information, and financial harm to victims," said Zachary Fardon, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, in a statement.

"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 cyber victims," Fardon said.

If convicted, French faces up to ten years in prison and $250,000 in fines. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.