The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Breaking News

March 16, 2013

LA Times hack: Security breach or harmless prank?

(Continued)

SAN FRANCISCO —

Keys was hired in 2012 as deputy social media editor for the Reuters news service. He didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

"I'm okay," he tweeted Friday in response to a journalism colleague wondering how he was doing.

According to Keys' Facebook profile, he is single and works at Thomson Reuters Corp.'s New York office, where "I get paid to use Twitter and Facebook at work."

He was suspended with pay late Thursday, said Reuters spokesman David Girardin, who did not elaborate. A spokesman for the Chicago-based Tribune Co. declined to comment.

According to the indictment, a hacker identified only as "Sharpie" used information Keys supplied in an Internet chat room and altered a headline on a December 2010 Times story to read "Pressure builds in House to elect CHIPPY 1337." The reference was to another hacking group credited with defacing the website of video game publisher Eidos in 2011.

Keys is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transmit information to damage a protected computer, as well as transmitting and attempting to transmit that information. If convicted, prosecutors say the Secaucus, N.J., resident faces a combined 25 years prison and a $500,000 fine if sentenced to the maximum for each count.

However, first-time offenders with no criminal history will typically spend much less time in prison than the maximum sentence, said Mary Fan, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in criminal law and procedure at the University of Washington School of Law.

Keys' arraignment is scheduled for April 12 in Sacramento.

His indictment comes after recent hacks into the computer systems of two other U.S. media companies that own The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both newspapers reported in February that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.

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