Three LulzSec hackers plead guilty to SOCA, NHS attacks

Three men have pleaded guilty to cyber attacks on a number of organisations in 2011. They were part of the LulzSec hacking group.

LulzSec was a spin-off of the hackivist collective Anonymous. Lulzsec emerged briefly during 2011 and carried out attacks during a period from May to June that year it called "50 days of Lulz".

Ryan Ackroyd admitted being part of the group and pleaded guilty to attacks targeting Sony, Nintendo, News International and the Arizona State Police. Ackroyd, a 26-year-old from Mexborough in South Yorkshire, admitted plotting the attacks as part of an eight-month campaign in 2011. Ackroyd adopted the persona of a 16-year-old girl, named "Kayla" within the group.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of "conspiring to do an unauthorized act to impair the operation of a computer or computers." alongside Jake Davis, a 20-year-old from Shetland, and Mustafa al-Bassam, an 18-year-old from Peckham, who also pleaded guilty to a single hacking charge each.

The trio were behind a string of attacks targeting Nintendo, News International, 20th Century Fox, Sony Group and the NHS. The group managed to plant a news story on the Sun website that Rupert Murdoch had died.

The three were arrested after the group's leader, Hector Monsegur known as "Sabu" was arrested by the FBI and persuaded to become an informant.

Crown Prosecutor Prosecutor Sandip Patel told the court that Akroyd "was the hacker, so to speak; they turned to him for his expertise as a hacker."

The three will be sentenced on 14 May alongside 21-year-old Ryan Cleary, who earlier pleaded guilty to six hacking charges related to LulzSec, including an attack on Pentagon computers. The three could face sentences of up to ten years in prison.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.