A notorious computer hacker was charged in federal court in San Jose Wednesday with breaking into computers owned by San Francisco-based customer service website Zendesk and obtaining information that allowed him to hack Twitter accounts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said today. Between Feb. 16 and 19, 2013, Cameron Lacroix, 25, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, allegedly used a security exploit to give himself heightened access to Zendesk accounts, prosecutors said.
He then used that access to disable a security feature that allowed only Twitter employees to view Twitter customer service information, giving himself access. Zendesk provides helpdesk services to numerous companies, including Twitter.
The tickets he gained access to included contact information for Twitter users including email addresses. Lacroix allegedly used that information to gain access to at least two Twitter accounts. Lacroix allegedly defaced those accounts with text and photos, including an announcement that one company had been sold to its chief competitor. He also used his Zendesk access to prevent Twitter from being alerted to the hack, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said responding to the hack cost Zendesk and Twitter $200,000. Lacroix faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine plus restitution if convicted of the charge. He is currently free on $50,000 personal recognizance bond and is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Aug. 8, where he is facing other charges of computer crimes.
Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts have charged Lacroix with hacking a chief of police’s email account, breaking into other law enforcement servers, and stealing payment information for 14,000 credit card customers’. He also allegedly hacked into Bristol Community College computers while a student there and changed grades for himself and two other students, federal prosecutors said. In a plea deal, LaCroix agreed to a four-year sentence for those charges and is scheduled to receive the sentence on Oct. 27, Justice Department officials said.
Prosecutors say he goes by the online aliases “cam0,” “@Freak,” and “leetjones.” He was previously linked to hacking socialite Paris Hilton’s cellphone while still a juvenile and other crimes. He served a federal prison sentence and was released in 2011.
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