Have you ever wondered what happens to an Anonymous hacker after his arrest and sentencing? Softpedia caught up with LulzCart, a prodigious hacktivist that had his "career" cut short in May 2012, when Romanian authorities just had enough of his antics.
LulzCart, or Gabriel Bălăeasa, had been behind several high-profile defacements, targeting both Romanian and international websites.
After the now 28-year-old hacker had been arrested together with 12 of his friends, he pleaded guilty, and received a sentence of three years in prison, time served, and six years probation, which he's serving as we speak.
LulzCart, the nickname he still uses even today, is one of the lucky few hackers from the golden age of Anonymous that got off easy. The hacker only spent two months in prison in 2012, as Romanian police analyzed seized equipment, after which he was released on bail. He is also one of the few hackers that authorities allowed to continue to go online, right after his hacks, with no restrictions.
After his sentencing in early 2013, the hacker had dedicated his time in building the MyAnonStore store, selling merchendise and donating the money to help with legal costs of other Anonymous hackers. This gesture was a thank you because himself received financial help from the hacktivist community in order to pay for his lawyer and legal feels.
Since then, LulzCart has been laying low. With his real life identity exposed and with authorities knowing his whereabouts, it's hard to have a hacking career anymore. Here's our talk with LulzCart, and some of his thoughts (everything [sic]).
Have you been following the hacktivism scene? What are your thoughts on it?
LulzCart: I never stopped following the hacktivism scene, regarding of what happened to me in the past. I think most of ppl that still support the idea of free speech (sadly this number gets lower every day) are a bit afraid because of the repressions from the government officials, and here i want to point the finger at the high number of arrests that were made in the last 3-4 years...
I think this is what scares everyone who still has the courage to express his own point of view and unmask government corruption by any means.
And there is another problem that’s growing up day by day: being an activist/hacktivist nowadays it`s becoming more like a trend for many.
Sometimes it may look “so cool” in front of friends or anyone else if you are a member of a hacking collective, and in this case let’s say Anonymous, as the collective is being known to be the largest one of this kind.
The same problem applies to street protests, where 1000 ppl are peacefully protesting about something, wearing the Guy Fawkes mask, and then here come 5 rednecks, wearing the same mask and starting to shoot or incendiate, just for fun...and that`s how we get ppl arrested because the police will respond, and when you are a peaceful protester and they come to beat you for example, and you aren`t guilty of anything, the main instinct is to fight back.
I am still amazed why ppl even now, after so many years, still don’t get the Anonymous idea, and the fact that this is not about memberships, pre-made dramas, getting to front cover news or Instagram selfies with Guy Fawkes mask on the toilet...damn!
Are there hackers or hacking related topics that you're keeping an eye on right now?
LulzCart: Hell yeah, you can be sure I am following every single news story related to hacking and IT stuff in general, so don`t think that if I can`t officialy do “things” anymore because of what happened in the past, it means that i forgot how things are done or I lost track of them, because you will be surprised :)
And speaking of hackers, there is one guy that got my attention so many times: the Jester. I recently saw an article where FBI claimed that this Jester guy is like “the Batman of the internet”...wow! Do you think what i think? :) So sad this Batman of the internet became so vocative after the fedz came after me, otherwise I would had him on my dinner table. I’m quite sure his “mission” is to disrupt things, and some times under the same banner as the rest of ppl, wich is not ok (you nasty government!) [LulzCart hinting that The Jester might be an undercover government agent]
Have you kept in touch with former members of Anonymous Romania or other groups?
LulzCart: I always keep in touch with as much ppl as i can. How can you not keep in touch with Free Anons collective that helped you so much in the past and did everything they could to keep you out of jail?
Thanks to them and to my great lawyer we are able to talk now. And speaking about this, i remember the first day when the fedz got us, they insisted on me to tell them who Nix is, like I was Captain Planet who knows every single person on this planet who he/she is.
All I knew about him is that some said it`s a fat guy around irc...and now guess what? Good news: he got fatter!
With Romanian law enforcement breathing down your neck, what are your plans for the future?
LulzCart: My plans for the future are...well let me reformulate it: my ONLY plan for the future is to actually get into cryptocoins mining, like Bitcoin mining, and as for now, sadly, it`s my only option to get a minimum income each month.
I started a donation campaign on IndioGogo a few days ago because this could be my only chance to gather some money from ppl willing to help me, and buy a few more mining devices, as I currently own only two miners, wich both produces a profit of 30-40$/month, depending on the bitcoin price.
I`m telling you that this is my only option because every time I tried to get a job I was refused thanks to my criminal record.
And when I recently tried to get into developing applications, I got informed by my probation officer that any software I create, and is intended for public or private use by anyone, must be closely reviewed by a government official first and must be approved before going into the wild. Believe me, this is something you can`t easily go through for 5 more years until my probation time ends.
Two LulzSec members, Sabu, and tFlow, are now working as white hats. Do you see yourself working as a security researcher in the near future?
LulzCart: Hold on, the first one you mentioned, Sabu, that`s not a white hat...that`s a damn snitch who doesn`t know too much about hacking and stuff...all he did in the past was to sit down and wait for others do the job for him.
How can you ever trust Sabu’s knowledge about IT and security? Jeez! There is a lot to talk about him, but i prefer to let the past go away.
And speaking of me, I already work as a security researcher for the ppl... I always was and always be here for anyone in need of help related to computers and security. I promise I will do my best to keep everyone safe online... and this is the only security researcher job I will ever work for.
Any advice for today's wannabe Anons?
LulzCart: If you trully support the idea and you feel that you do the right thing, keep it safe online and peacefully on the streets...and never stress the online big brother too much unless you know exactly what are you doing.