FBI: Irish duo are top hackers

The FBI has accused two Irish students of being among the ringleaders in one of the world’s most disruptive internet hacking organisations.

Donncha O’Cearrbhail, aged 19, from Birr, Co Offaly, faces up to 15 years in prison, while Darren Martyn from Galway is facing 20 years. They have been named among six suspected members of “hacktivist” group Anonymous and splinter groups including Lulzsec, Internet Fed, and AntiSec. They are accused, among other things, of hacking the Fine Gael website, the Fox broadcasting network and a Garda/FBI conference call.

While Mr O’Cearrbhail was in Garda custody last night Mr Martyn, under the alias info_dox, took to Twitter to say he was frightened but would “keep on smiling while I am still walking about”.

Mr Martyn is described as 25 in the documents released by the southern district of New York yesterday, but last night said he was actually 19. Mr Martyn describes himself as an NUI Galway student and “researcher at Insecurety [sic] Research”.

According to the court papers, Mr O’Cearrbhail was arrested by gardaí last September in relation to the hacking of the Fine Gael website.

It is alleged that the following January, Mr O’Cearrbhail, who has the internet aliases “palladium”, “polonium”, and “anonsacco”, hacked into a Garda email account and used that to find out about a conference call the gardaí, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies were planning to hold about Anonymous on Jan 17.

He is accused of recording the call and passing it on to others. According to US authorities, he even boasted about being able to track the movements of the head of the Garda cybercrime unit.

He was arrested again yesterday morning. He is being held in Terenure Garda Station, with gardaí saying they are “working with international colleagues as part of ongoing investigations into computer hacking”.

Mr Martyn, who has the aliases “pwnsauce”, “raepsauce”, and “networkkitten”, has not yet been arrested.

The two Irish students were named in the US papers along with two Americans, Hector Monsegur and Jeremy Hammond, and two British men, Ryan Ackroyd and Jake Davis. The latter were charged in Britain last night on separate court proceedings.

The papers make accusations that hacking group members:

* Compromised an FBI computer.

* Hacked US security firms HBGary Inc and its affiliate HBGary Federal, and stole confidential data relating to thousands of user accounts.

* Stole confidential data relating to more than 70,000 potential contestants on The X Factor, a Fox television show.

* Attacked the website of US network PBS and stole personal information of 2,000 employees and other individuals before making the information public.

According to US authorities, the two Irish men attacked finegael2011.com, which was hosted in Arizona, and uploaded code which defaced the website.

Mr Martyn faces two counts of computer hacking conspiracy, which carries a maximum term of 10 years for each.

Mr O’Cearrbhail faces a maximum 10-year sentence for computer hacking conspiracy and a maximum of five years for “intentionally disclosing an unlawfully intercepted wire communication”.

Picture: Darren Martyn

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