Hacking Mastermind, a Dropout, Led Obscure Life in NYC Project


The New York Times profiles Sabu, a hacker viewed as the mastermind of brash computer attacks intended to cripple the governments of Algeria and Zimbabwe, to shame some of the biggest brand-name companies in the world. His real identity–Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28–was revealed this week when the federal government announced that he had informed on his former colleagues in the hacking group Anonymous. The Times said he did his work from a housing project apartment on Avenue D on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Neighbors often complained about his pounding music and barking pit bull. A large man known as Booby, he was raising the two young children of his imprisoned aunt. He paid bills with stolen credit cards and dabbled in drug sales. In one neighborly gesture, he offered to use his hacking skills to sweeten other tenants' credit ratings. On Twitter, he was prone to grand declarations: “Give us liberty or give us death — and there's billions of us around the world. You can't stop us. Because without us you won't exist.” His father, also named Hector Monsegur, was arrested in 1997 along with his sister, Iris, for selling heroin. Both went to prison for seven years. He attended Washington Irving High School, but left in 2001 without finishing ninth grade. Court documents say he went to college, though it is unclear if he actually did.

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