Reuters Social Media Editor Matthew Keys Indicted for Helping Anonymous Hackers

Philip Bump

The Department of Justice announced today that Matthew Keys, deputy social media editor at Thomson Reuters and former employee of a Fox affiliate in Sacramento has been indicted for allegedly giving members of Anonymous login information to hack the Los Angeles Times website.

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The department's statement reads, in part:

The three-count indictment alleges that in December 2010 Keys provided members of the hacker group Anonymous with log-in credentials for a computer server belonging to KTXL FOX 40’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 log-in credentials, Keys allegedly encouraged the Anonymous members to disrupt the website.

The statement also alleges that one hacker told Keys that he'd succeeded in editing content on the Times' site, to which Keys allegedly replied, "nice." The content and date of the alleged hack isn't clear, but on December 14, 2010, a commented at Motley Fool identified a page on the Times site that had been hacked. In that instance, a story about politics was defaced to include what appears to be a hacker's name.

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As spotted by Adam Taylot, a Twitter account claiming to be associated with a hacker known as Sabu tweeted the following in March 2011:

http://tinyurl.com/mattkeysexposed AESCracked/Matt Keys was former producer for Tribune sites. Gave full control of LATimes.com to hackers.

— The Real Sabu (@anonymouSabu) March 22, 2011

Sabu ultimately agreed to cooperate with the government when he faced charges stemming from the "LulzSec" hacks.

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The full indictment is available here, via Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly. Keys, charged with three counts related to "transmitting information to damage a protected computer," could face 10 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines if found guilty on each charge. The severity of the possible punishment faced by Key reminded some of those faced by Aaron Swartz, the hacker whose arrest rose to national attention earlier this year after he committed suicide.

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We have reached out to Thomson Reuters for comment.