Australia charges man claiming to be LulzSec leader

Australia has charged a 24-year-old man who allegedly defaced a government website earlier this month and claims to be the leader of LulzSec, a rogue inactive hacking group.

The man, from Point Clare about 50 miles north of Sydney, was charged with two counts of unauthorized modification of data and one count of unauthorized access. He could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The man, who was not named, has been released on bail and is scheduled for to appear at Woy Woy local court on May 15, the AFP said in a news release.

Police said he is the first alleged member of LulzSec to be charged in Australia. The man is employed as an IT professional and had access to sensitive information, including that of government agencies, and posed a risk if he continued his activities, police said.

LulzSec was an offshoot of Anonymous, a loose-knit group of computer hackers that have defaced the websites of corporations and government agencies around the world. LulzSec drew intense law enforcement interest for its successful attacks and prominent bragging of its escapades on Twitter. The group’s targets included the security company HBGary Federal, the Public Broadcasting System, Sony Pictures and Fox.

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S., U.K., Spain and the Netherlands all made LulzSec-related arrests, and the group subsequently went quiet.

The group’s real leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur, also know as “Sabu,” was secretly arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011. He pleaded guilty in August 2011 to various hacking charges, and his cooperation with law enforcement resulted in numerous further arrests.

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