It's been almost a year since we learned that Hector Xavier Monsegur, the one-time LulzSec leader known as Sabu, had ratted out his hacker friends to the Feds in exchange for a few extra months of freedom. That was last March, and at that point in time Sabu had been working with the FBI for months, helping them thwart hacks from groups like Anonymous and bring in the hackers responsible.
A few weeks after that, we learned that Sabu's sentencing had been delayed so that Sabu could keep helping his new law enforcement friends. On Friday, U.S. prosecutors announced that Sabu's sentencing would be delayed once again. Prosecutors would not say why.
What Sabu is doing now that he's not packing his bags for prison remains a mystery. Assuming history serves as evidence, there's certainly a strong possibility that he's continuing to cooperate with authorities. Whatever he's doing with his free time, Sabu can't be too disappointed. He faces a maximum penalty of 124 years in prison. For hacking.
The timing of all this is pretty curious. Of course, a judge set the date for Sabu's sentencing months ago, but in recent weeks, there's been a serious uptick in reported cyber attacks, both of the jokester Anonymous type and the serious Chinese military type. The New York Times more or less kicked it off when it announced that it had been the victim of sustained hacking attacks over the past four months, and all signs pointed to the People's Liberation Army, though China vehemently denies any involvement.
In the days that followed, several other papers stepped forward and reported similar intrusions. By mid-February, Apple and Facebook also raised their hands to report hacks, also from the Chinese military. And while hacker hunters are getting better at finding out who's behind these kids of attacks, the government is obviously struggling. President Obama admitted as much in his State of the Union Address and the executive order on cybersecurity that followed.
In other words, the FBI needs all the help it can get. Again, it's impossible to say what Sabu is doing. The idea of the Feds maintaining a working relationship a criminal for months, if not years, is hardly far-fetched. Just look as far as Frank Abignale, the shape-shifting con artist made famous by the movie Catch Me If You Can. Whatever he's gaining from staying out of prison, Sabu stands to benefit from playing canary a little longer. That's not a bad move for a guy who's looking at the equivalent of two life sentences.