The 15-year-old hacker known as Cosmo the God was behind the takeover of a Westboro Baptist Church member’s Twitter feed, a source with direct knowledge of the attack confirmed to Wired on Monday.
Cosmo gained access to the @DearShirley Twitter account via an e-mail account, and from there was able to leverage control of the Twitter feed itself, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. As of this writing, the account remains up and operating, and seemingly beyond the control of its owner.
Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for picketing funerals of American soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week the organization apparently announced its intention to protest at the funerals of the children killed at Sandy Hook, with spokewoman Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper tweeting the following: “Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”
The teen’s social-engineering techniques allowed him to gain access to user accounts at Amazon, PayPal and a slew of other companies. He was arrested in June, as part of a multi-state FBI sting and was recently sentenced to probation until his 21st birthday, during which time he is prohibited from using the internet without supervision and prior consent.
The latest hack would seem to violate those terms. But it’s garnered Cosmo an unending stream of Twitter praise. “I love that @cosmothegod hacked @DearShirley!! I’m glad that there is one less hateful twitter account,” wrote one fan. “I think @cosmothegod deserves a medal for hacking @DearShirley and making everyone’s day,” another tweeted.
Wired sought to reach Westboro Baptist Church for comment, but its phone line was consistently busy.
One the one hand, the kid shouldn’t have violated his probation. As a result, he’s probably going to wind up facing a prison term of three years for what was essentially a dumb but harmless prank.
One the other hand, The WBC (And I refuse to use their full name. I’m an old man and keystrokes are precious.) is an awful church filled with awful people determined to perform an awful mission in life. Namely, going to funerals and telling people their loved ones are going to hell. And they were prepared to do this at a service for murder children.
I’d be temped to call them “Motherfuckers” but that would be an insult to people who have had consensual sex with their mothers.
So I feel sorry for the kid. Simply put, he saw what was going on and decided to be Zorro. He saw a wrong being done and decided to fight back, damn the consequences.
Yeah, if I was the judge, I’d have no choice but to throw the book at the kid.
But if I was the guy in charge of transferring him from county lock up to State Prison, I’d make damn certain to make one or two stops first.
And at least one of them would end with that kid getting the hummer of a damn lifetime!
Because for fucking with the WBO, the kid deserves at least one happy ending.