Lulzsec Sony hackers handed prison sentences


Three men have been sentenced to jail for their part in masterminding hacking attacks against a number of major companies and organisations, including Sony, the NHS and the CIA.

Ryan Cleary, 21, Jake Davis, 20, Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, and Ryan Ackroyd, 26 were given prison sentences on Thursday in London for their role in the attacks.

Cleary was jailed for 32 months, Ackroyd for 30 months and Davis for two years in a young offender's institution. Al-Bassam was given a 20-month suspended sentence.

Today's convictions should serve as a deterrent to others who use the internet to commit cyber attacks.

The four saw themselves as "latter-day pirates" as they carried out attacks on organisations such as The Sun newspaper, the NHS and Sony. They formed part of the LulzSec collective, a group behind attacks that stole confidential data including emails, passwords and credit card details.

Judge Deborah Taylor said the group had "wreaked havoc and destruction, hiding behind aliases in the safety of their own bedrooms whilst seeking maximum publicity".

She also said their taunts made for "chilling reading."

The group mounted attacks on Pentagon computers and crashed the CIA's website. They also hacked into The Sun website posting a fake story announcing that Rupert Murdoch had died.

"After initially being alerted by the FBI to criminal activity on British soil, we quickly began unpicking LulzSec, who had been running riot," said Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of the British Police Central e-Crime Unit.

"In essence they were the worst sort of vandal, acting without care of cost or harm to those they affected, whether this was to cause a company to fold and so costing people their jobs, or to put at threat the thousands of innocent internet users whose logins and passwords they made public."

"Today's convictions should serve as a deterrent to others who use the internet to commit cyber attacks," he added.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Andrew Hadik, said: "The harm they caused was foreseeable, extensive and intended. Indeed, they boasted of how clever they were with a complete disregard for the impact their actions had on real people's lives. This case should serve as a warning to other cybercriminals that they are not invincible."

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.