Anonymous Hacker Group: Two Jailed for Cyber Attacks
Two men who carried out cyber attacks for the Anonymous hacking group have been jailed.
Christopher Weatherhead, 22, of Northampton, and Ashley Rhodes, 28, of Camberwell, London, were jailed for 18 months and seven months respectively.
The two men carried out distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks which paralyse computer systems by flooding them with online requests.
The ones they attacked included payment site PayPal, costing it £3.5m.
Co-defendant Peter Gibson, of Hartlepool, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years.
Another defendant, Jake Birchall, 18, from Chester, will be sentenced on 1 February.
‘You’re being stung’
The sentences were handed down at Southwark Crown Court and are thought to be the first convictions for DDoS in the UK.
Weatherhead and Rhodes were found guilty of conspiring to impair the operation of computers between 1 August 2010 and 22 January 2011.
Gibson was deemed to have played a lesser role in the conspiracy and admitted his part, as did Birchall.
The websites targeted by the cyber attacks were chosen by Anonymous, as part of what it called Operation Payback, because the hackers did not agree with their views.
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What is a DDoS attack?
Attackers commonly use networks of compromised computers - called a botnet - that they control to launch the attacks
Hacking group Anonymous has recruited volunteers to download a tool to create a “virtual” botnet
By overwhelming the target site with requests, the attackers can ensure that genuine visitors cannot reach the site
These requests look like genuine web traffic so can be hard to filter out
Typically, such attacks have been aimed at high-profile websites, such as those belonging to government departments, banks and political organisations
They are illegal in most countries
Other companies hit by the attacks included Mastercard and Visa.