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Ex-Web editor charged in LA Times hacking plot

A masked hacker, part of the Anonymous group, hacks the French presidential Elysee Palace website on January 20, 2012
A masked hacker, part of the Anonymous group, hacks the French presidential Elysee Palace website on January 20, 2012. US federal authorities charged a former social media editor, now working with Reuters, with conspiring with the hacktivist group Anonymo

US federal authorities charged a former Web producer, now working with Reuters, with conspiring with the hacktivist group Anonymous to break into and alter an online Los Angeles Times article.

Matthew Keys, 26, was indicted in California on three counts of felonies related to hacking before his current Reuters post. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the federal grand jury indictment in Sacramento, Keys provided Anonymous members with login credentials to a computer server belonging to Tribune Co., which owns the Times, in December 2010.

He had been fired from his post as a Web producer at a Tribune-owned television station in Sacramento -- KTXL FOX 40 -- two months before.

A hacker then used the credentials provided by Keys to log into the Tribune server, and ultimately made changes to the online version of a Los Angeles Times news story.

The conspiracy aimed to "make unauthorized changes to websites that Tribune Company used to communicate news features to the public; and to damage computer systems used by Tribune Company."

Keys, widely followed via his previously used Twitter handle @ProducerMatthew, is currently a deputy social media editor at Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters.

"Thomson Reuters is committed to obeying the rules and regulations in every jurisdiction in which it operates," a company spokesman said in a statement.

"Any legal violations, or failures to comply with the company's own strict set of principles and standards, can result in disciplinary action."

The statement stressed that Keys joined Reuters in 2012, more than a year after the alleged crimes.

Keys turned to Twitter to react to the indictment hours after it was handed down in court -- and said he learned of the news via the social network.

"I am fine. I found out the same way most of you did: From Twitter. Tonight I'm going to take a break. Tomorrow, business as usual," he said via his new Twitter handle @TheMatthewKeys.

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