PRIVACY / COMPUTER CRIME
A student and a church volunteer have been jailed for carrying out cyber attacks with the hacking group Anonymous, including one online assault that cost the payments giant PayPal at least £3.5m. The attacks targeted anti-piracy and financial companies between August 2010 and January 2011. Christopher Weatherhead, a Northampton University student, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for his part in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal, Visa and Mastercard in December 2010.
Judge Testar also sentenced Ashley Rhodes, 28, to seven months in prison for his part in the activities of the self-styled “hacktivist” group. Rhodes, a church volunteer from Camberwell, south London, sighed and leant his head on the back wall of the dock as his jail term was read out at Southwark crown court. A third man, Peter Gibson, 24, was given a suspended six-month prison sentence for his part in the Anonymous attacks. The sentencing of a fourth man, Jake Burchall, 18, was adjourned.
The Ministry of Sound estimated the cost of the attack on its sites as £9,000, while the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s costs were more than £20,000 and the British Phonographic Industry’s more than £4,000. Gibson suggested attacking the website of singer Lily Allen as a possible target to Rhodes at one point. He agreed with the idea, but the attack never went ahead
In a separate matter, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has been fined £250,000 ($396,100) following a “serious breach” of the UK’s Data Protection Act. UK authorities said a hack in April 2011 “could have been prevented”. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) criticised the entertainment giant for not having up-to-date security software. Sony told the BBC it “strongly disagreed” with the ruling and planned to appeal.