By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors said four Irish and British men charged in a crackdown on the international hacking group Anonymous also helped breach the security analysis company Stratfor last year.
In an indictment made public on Wednesday, Manhattan federal prosecutors said the four men, previously charged in March, were part of the "Antisec" faction of Anonymous that disclosed in December that it had hacked into Strategic Forecasting Inc, or Stratfor.
Stratfor is dubbed a "shadow CIA" because it gathers non-classified intelligence on international crises.
Until Wednesday, only 27-year old Chicago hacker Jeremy Hammond had been formally charged with the Stratfor breach. Hammond, who is in custody in New York, was formally indicted on Wednesday for the first time, and has yet to be arraigned. His lawyer declined comment.
Hammond's arrest was announced on March 6 along with charges against the four suspected "AntiSec" members, Donncha O'Cearrbhail and Darren Martyn of Ireland, and Jake Davis and Ryan Ackroyd of Britain.
In announcing the charges in March, U.S. authorities revealed that a leading hacker known online as "Sabu" was Hector Xavier Monsegur, and that he was arrested at his small apartment in a Manhattan housing complex last June and had been cooperating with the FBI ever since.
U.S. authorities said all six men were top members of LulzSec, an offshoot of the loose-knit cyber-activist group Anonymous. Some of the men had also joined interlinked factions called "AntiSec" and "Internet Feds," the authorities said.
LulzSec and Anonymous have taken credit for carrying out attacks against the CIA, Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency, Japan's Sony Corp, Mexican government websites and the national police in Ireland. Other victims included Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper arm News International, Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Wednesday's indictment also charged Hammond, known online as "Anarchaos," and Davis, known as "Topiary," with a June 2011 hack of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The four Irish and British defendants are charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, which each carry a 10-year maximum prison term. Hammond is charged with two hacking conspiracy charges and one substantive hacking count. He also faces one count each of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to access device fraud.
The case is U.S. v. Ryan Ackroyd et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-185.
(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)