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NullCrew hacker arrested for attacks on companies and universities

17 Jun 2014
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US federal officers have arrested and charged a 20-year-old man for allegedly conspiring to attack five organisations in 2013.

The accused – Timothy French, who is also known as Orbit – is part of the NullCrew hacking group.

The FBI arrested French at home in Tennessee, ‘without incident', and is apparently still looking for other NullCrew members. It accused the group of ‘dozens' of high-profile attacks, French is accused of involvement in five attacks.

He has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, and was arrested in the middle of last week.

The NullCrew attacks were designed to harvest information such as usernames and passwords, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Zachary Fardon, US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said: "Cyber crime 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 cyber victims."

NullCrew had a long career and regularly posted its successes to Twitter and Pastebin. In 2012 V3 reported that the group had claimed a successful attack on Sony, yielding hundreds of passwords.

The DoJ said that in one incident the group revealed data and information relating to members of a foreign defence ministry. Then around 3,000 individuals were thought to be affected.

The document says that the FBI had someone on hand to assist its investigation and used this witness to infiltrate the NullCrew. It is possible, though not confirmed, that this is Sabu, or Hector Xavier Monsegur.

French is accused of involvement in five cyber attacks, two of which were on universities and the remainder on businesses. French's charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A hardline response to cyber crime is favoured these days and the Queen's Speech in June included plans to increase sentences for this kind of attack. Recent arrests have seen Russian and US authorities go after those running major cyber scams.

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Dave Neal

Dave Neal is a reporter at The INQUIRER. Previously he worked at, VNUnet, and IT Week in editor and journalist roles.

He started his career when the Y2K bug was a front page story and remains committed to covering the interesting world of technology news.

He left the world of office working four years ago and now represents The INQUIRER from home in Kent with his dog.

Dave has been quoted in papers including the London Metro.

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