After being fired, a former web producer for FOX40 helped members of the hacker group "Anonymous" gain access to the servers of his former parent company and deface a Los Angeles Times news article, according to federal prosecutors.
Matthew Keys, 26, was terminated from the Sacramento TV station in October 2010, according to a press release. Two months later, he allegedly provided hackers with login information to the servers of the Tribune Company, which owns KXTL FOX40 and the Los Angeles Times.
"After providing login credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the [Tribune] website," a press release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner states. "According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log in to the Tribune Company server and make changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature."
When he handed over the login information, Keys told the hackers to "go f*** some s*** up," the indictment states.
According to the indictment, the altered Los Angeles Times article read:
House Democrat leader Steny Hoyer sees 'very good things' in the deal cut which will see uber skid Chippy 1337 take his rightful place, as head of the Senate, reluctant House Democrats told to SUCK IT UP.
By CH1PPYS NO1 FAN
Keys tried to regain access for the hackers after they were locked out of the Tribune Servers, authorities say.
A Tribune Company spokesman declined to comment for this article.
Keys tweeted that he learned about the charges via social media:
I am fine. I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I'm going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual.
Keys faces charges of conspiracy, transmission of malicious code and attempted transmission of malicious code. He could receive a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted on each count.
Keys, a resident of Secaucus, N.J., now works as a Reuters' Deputy Social Media Editor, according to his Twitter profile. His LinkedIn profile lists him as a graduate of American River College. More recently, he created the website isgooglereaderdeadyet.com.
The full press release follows:
FORMER WEB PRODUCER INDICTED IN SACRAMENTO FOR CONSPIRING WITH “ANONYMOUS” MEMBERS TO ATTACK INTERNET NEWS SITE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former web producer for KTXL FOX40, a Tribune Company-owned television station in Sacramento, was charged today in an indictment for allegedly conspiring with members of the hacker group “Anonymous” to hack into and alter a Tribune Company website, the Justice Department announced.
Matthew Keys, 26, of Secaucus, N.J., was charged in the Eastern District of California with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, transmitting information to damage a protected computer, and attempted transmission of information to damage a protected computer. Keys was employed by FOX40, as its web producer, but was terminated in late October 2010.
The three-count indictment alleges that in December 2010 Keys provided members of the hacker group Anonymous with login credentials for a computer server belonging to FOX40’s corporate parent, the Tribune Company. According to the indictment, Keys identified himself on an Internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and provided members of Anonymous with a login and password to the Tribune Company server. After providing login credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website. According to the indictment, at least one of the computer hackers used the credentials provided by Keys to log in to the Tribune Company server and make changes to the web version of a Los Angeles Times news feature.
The indictment further alleges that Keys had a conversation with the hacker who claimed credit for the defacement of the Los Angeles Times website. The hacker allegedly told Keys that Tribune Company system administrators had thwarted his efforts and locked him out. Keys allegedly attempted to regain access for that hacker, and when he learned that the hacker had made changes to a Los Angeles Times page, Keys responded, “nice.”
If convicted, Keys faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture provision for property traceable to the offense.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Sacramento and Los Angeles Field Offices of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.