- News & Events
May 20, 2013
Hackers Ryan Cleary, 21; Ryan Ackroyd, 26; Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, and Jake Davis, 20, who went under the online handles of ViraL, Kayla, tFlow and Topiary, pleaded guilty in a London courtroom to causing millions of dollars of damage to corporate and government computer networks during an online crime spree they boasted about on Twitter.
The hackers were members of LulzSec, an offshoot of Anonymous. The name LulzSec is combination of lulz or lol, i.e., laughing out loud and sec, which is short for security. Put them together and LulzSec becomes “Laughing Out Loud at Security.”
They hacked into News International’s computer system to post a fake story from the Sun tabloid, announcing that owner Rupert Murdoch had committed suicide and into PBS’s Website, redirecting users to a fake news report that rapper Tupac Shakur was alive. Although such stories might well have caused anguish to their families, the death of Rupert Murdoch and the resurrection of Tupac Shakur some might chalk up to youthful pranks. However, according to Reuters, they also “hacked into Pentagon computers, crashed the CIA’s website, stole millions of items of private individuals’ data such as passwords and user names from companies including Fox or Sony and posted them online on sites such as Pirate Bay.”
Prosecutor Sandip Patel observed, “(These men are) at the cutting edge of a contemporary, emerging species of international criminal (who see) themselves as latter-day pirates.”
Patel went on to say, “the four men’s activities were as much about self-promotion as they were about hacking, describing them as adept at getting the attention of media and of hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and motivated by ‘anarchic self-amusement.’” The prosecutor noted that a LulzSec press release said they acted the way they did, “just because we could.”
According to Reuters, “The alleged ringleader of LulzSec was U.S.-based Hector Xavier Monsegur, known as “Sabu”, who was arrested in June 2011 but agreed to cooperate, maintaining his online persona for a time and leading the FBI to other members of the group. Monsegur is awaiting sentencing in the United States, while a 24-year-old IT worker was arrested in Australia in April in connection with LulzSec.”
Ryan Cleary (ViraL) also pleaded guilty to charges of downloading pornographic images of babies and children.
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