Notorious Government Hacktivist Shares Methods

Cocaine dealers, bank robbers and carjackers converge at Manchester Federal Prison in rural Kentucky -- and then there is Jeremy Hammond, a tousle-haired and talented hacker whose nimble fingers have clicked and tapped their way into the nation's computing systems. Among those whose data he helped expose: the husband of the federal judge who sentenced him.

"From the start, I always wanted to target government websites, but also police and corporations that profit off government contracts," he says. "I hacked lots of dot-govs."

An Associated Press report this week found the $10 billion-a-year effort to protect the federal government's extensive computer systems is struggling to keep up with a daily bombardment of cyberattacks from thieves and hostile states that grab Social Security numbers, peruse Pentagon secrets and hijack critical websites. Human error, by way of employee missteps, is often to blame.

Those behind these incidents are a motley group: foreign spies, intellectual property thieves, personal identity peddlers, and, increasingly, politically motivated hacktivists like Hammond. Once the FBI's most-wanted cybercriminal, Hammond is serving one of the longest sentences a U.S. hacker has received -- 10 years, the maximum allowed under his plea agreement last year.

"This is the nicest room in the place," he said when the AP recently sat down with him in a drab cinderblock visiting room to talk about how and why he did what he did. Prison authorities barred cameras and recorders, citing security.

A hacktivist for more than a decade, Hammond, 29, was arrested in 2012 after penetrating the U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor, whose clients include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department.

He'd been working with a subgroup of the loose-knit hacking movement "Anonymous" to disrupt the networks of Sony Pictures, the Public Broadcasting Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and others when a member of...

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