Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Journalist charged in hacking conspiracy suspended
First Published Mar 15 2013 10:49 am • Last Updated Mar 15 2013 10:49 am

SAN FRANCISCO • News agency Reuters has suspended with pay a deputy social media editor after he was indicted on federal charges of conspiring with the hacking group Anonymous to deface an online story of the Los Angeles Times.

Reuters spokesman David Girardin told The Associated Press Friday in an email that Matthew Keys was suspended on Thursday with pay. He did not elaborate.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Federal authorities allege that in December 2010, Keys, 26, provided hackers with login information to access the computer system of the Tribune Co., the parent company of the Times that also owns a Sacramento television station Keys was fired from months before.

Investigators allege that he gave a hacker named "Sharpie" the information in an Internet chat room frequented by hackers and urged the hacker to do some damage to the Tribune Co.

According to the indictment, Sharpie altered a Times news story posted Dec. 14 and 15, 2010, to read "Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337," a reference to another hacking group. "Chippy 1337" claimed responsibility for defacing the website of video game publisher Eidos in 2011.

Keys’ Facebook page says he worked as an online news producer for the Sacramento FOX affiliate KTXL from June 2008 to April 2010.

Reuters hired Keys in 2012 as a deputy editor for social media and he was at work Thursday. He didn’t return a phone call or respond to email messages seeking comment.

"I am fine," Keys tweeted Thursday, hours after his federal indictment was announced. "I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I’m going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual."

The indictment alleges that a second attempt to hack the Times was unsuccessful.

Federal prosecutors allege in court papers that a legendary hacker and Anonymous leader named "Sabu" offered advice on how to infiltrate Tribune’s systems. The FBI unmasked Sabu when it arrested Hector Xavier Monsegur on June 7, 2011. Monsegur secretly worked as an FBI informant until federal officials announced that he helped them arrest five other alleged hackers on March 6, 2012.


story continues below
story continues below

Federal officials declined to comment on whether Sabu assisted in the investigation of Keys.

The day after it was announced that Sabu was an FBI informant, Keys wrote a story for Reuters about "infiltrating" the hackers’ chat room.

Keys is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, as well as transmitting and attempting to transmit that information. If convicted, the New Jersey native faces a combined 25 years prison and a $500,000 fine if sentenced to the maximum for each count.

He is scheduled for arraignment April 12 in Sacramento.

The indictment comes after recent hacks into the computer systems of two other U.S. media companies that own The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both newspapers reported in February that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.

Anonymous and its offshoot, Lulz Security, have been linked to a number of high-profile computer attacks and crimes, including many that were meant to embarrass governments, federal agencies and corporate giants. They have been connected to attacks that took data from FBI partner organization InfraGard, and they’ve jammed websites of the CIA and the Public Broadcasting Service.

A computer security specialist said the LA Times attack would be an unusual hack if the government’s charges are accurate.

"This is first case where I’ve heard of someone leaking stuff to Anonymous to have a site defaced, instead of defacing it himself," said Clifford Neuman, director of University of Southern California Center for Computer Systems Security. "He found some way to achieve his ends of defacing the website without having to do it himself."

A spokesman for the Chicago-based Tribune Co. declined to comment.

While Keys did not directly address the federal charges Thursday through his voluminous Twitter feed, commentary from his more than 23,500 followers and even a story about the news indictment were retweeted from his account.

Keys did obliquely address the issue in a status update on his Facebook page he posted late Thursday.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.