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Gamer may be behind 'Chippy 1337' hack of L.A. Times

March 15, 2013 |  3:10 pm

Photo: Image The Times saved of article hacked in 2010. Credit: Los Angeles Times

A hacker identity linked to a breach of Tribune Co. servers in 2010 that led to a changed headline on the Los Angeles Times website has also been linked with hacks on international gaming servers, according to multiple tech blogs and fan sites.

In December 2010, the headline for a Times story on tax cuts curiously read “Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337” for about 30 minutes until server administrators were able to change it.

The hacker gained access to Tribune servers through former employee Matthew Keys, according to a federal indictment filed Thursday in California’s Eastern District court.

In 2011, using the pseudonym or handle "CHIPPY 1337," a hacker or hackers breached a Canadian role-playing game server, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

A May 2011 post in Time magazine’s tech blog suggested that users of the Chippy 1337 handle, among others, were part of a growing divide among the Anonymous hacker group’s active users. While Anonymous has traditionally targeted sites and organizations that it ideologically opposes, some of Chippy’s hacks in recent years have been focused on gaining headlines – The Times hack as an example – than promoting a specific cause.

The person behind Chippy 1337 may also be an avid video game player. In the online gaming community, 1337 means “leet,” short for “elite.”

The L.A. Times hacker also told Keys he or she will be “afk 5 minutes,” according to a transcript included in the indictment.

“Afk” -- an acronym for away from keyboard -- is a term often used by gamers.

A 2011 story by the BBC, however, suggested hackers may be using the Chippy 1337 name to divert from the real perpetrators.


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-- Joseph Serna

Photo: A screen grab of the 2010 hacked L.A. Times article. Credit: Los Angeles Times