Journalist helped ‘Anonymous’ hack news story, prosecutors say


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A former Web producer for a Tribune-owned Sacramento television station was indicted Thursday and accused of conspiring with members of the hacking group “Anonymous” to infiltrate a Tribune site shortly after he was fired.

Matthew Keys, 26, now deputy social media editor for Reuters, was charged with three hacking-related counts and faces up to 10 years in prison for the December 2010 attack. The hack appeared on a news story on the website of the Los Angeles Times, which is also owned by Tribune.


According to federal authorities, Keys provided a user name and password for Tribune servers to hackers in an online chat room after he was terminated from KTXL FOX 40 in late October of that year and ‘encouraged’ them to disrupt the site. With the information from Keys, prosecutors allege, a hacker accessed a news story on The Times’ website and changed a headline to read: ‘Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337.’

‘[T]hat was such a buzz having my edit on the LA Times,’ the hacker, using the screen name “sharpie,” wrote to Keys, according to the indictment. ‘Nice,’ Keys allegedly replied.

(The Times saved a copy of a hacked article, above. But it’s not entirely clear if that article is the one prosecutors referenced in the indictment.)

Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that the Tribune Co. spent more than $5,000 responding to the attack and restoring its systems. They are also seeking forfeiture of the tools Keys used in assisting the attack, including his MacBook Pro. Keys could not immediately be reached for comment.


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