Attacks/Breaches
5/16/2013
04:05 PM
50%
50%

LulzSec Hackers Get Prison Time in U.K. For Cyberattacks

Prison time marks the end of a prominent chapter in hacktivist history, one security researcher says

Four people tied to the notorious LulzSec crew were forced to face the music today as a judge in London handed down sentencing.

Saying the group "wreaked havoc and destruction," Judge Deborah Taylor of Southwark Crown Court issued a mixture of penalties for the defendants. The stiffest sentence was handed down to Ryan Cleary, 21, who was hit with a 32-month prison term. Ryan Ackroyd, 26, was sentenced to 30 months, while co-defendant Jake Davis, 20, was given a two-year sentence and ordered to serve his time in a juvenile institution.

Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, received a 20-month suspended sentence for his role in the group.

Some of the LulzSec members could face extradition to the U.S., according to a BBC report.

LulzSec, short for Lulz Security, was formed in 2011. The group would go on to attack organizations ranging from Fox News to Sony to the CIA. The FBI eventually caught up with Hector Xavier Monsegur, who went by the nickname "Sabu," in June 2011. He then became a federal informant, and during the course of several months began to unravel the gang from within.

Arrests of other group members and affiliates followed. Cleary, who Scotland Yard's Police Central e-Crime Unit said was not a core member of the group, assisted members by allowing them to use a botnet under his control to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks. Al-Bassam was involved in discovering and exploiting vulnerabilities, and also created and controlled LulzSec's website. Davis, meanwhile, acted as the group's spokesperson and managed their Twitter account and press releases, while Ackroyd researched and executing many of their hacks.

"This has been a long and complex investigation conducted with the assistance of our international partners," Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of the Police Central e-Crime Unit, said in a statement. "After initially being alerted by the FBI to criminal activity on British soil, we came to arrest Ryan Cleary and quickly began unpicking LulzSec, who had been running riot, causing significant harm to businesses and people."

"Theirs was an unusual campaign in that it was more about promoting their own criminal behavior than any form of personal financial profit," he adds. "In essence, they were the worst sort of vandal -- acting without care of cost or harm to those they affected, whether that 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."

These arrests mark the close of the loudest and most prominent chapter in the history of hacktivism, says Rob Rachwald, FireEye's senior director of market research.

"LulzSec was the Bonnie and Clyde of the cyberera, making hacktivism a significant factor in cyberattack," he says. "Since LulzSec's breakup, hacktivism remains a force, but is just a shell of what it used to be. LulzSec's hacking skills were significant, and other groups have tried -- without the same success -- to emulate their achievements."

Cleary also pleaded guilty to two counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possession of indecent images of children. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges June 12.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Brian Prince is a freelance writer for a number of IT security-focused publications. Prior to becoming a freelance reporter, he worked at eWEEK for five years covering not only security, but also a variety of other subjects in the tech industry. Before that, he worked as a ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7830
Published: 2014-11-24
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in mod/feedback/mapcourse.php in the Feedback module in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML by leveraging the mod/feedback:mapcourse cap...

CVE-2014-7831
Published: 2014-11-24
lib/classes/grades_external.php in Moodle 2.7.x before 2.7.3 does not consider the moodle/grade:viewhidden capability before displaying hidden grades, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information by leveraging the student role to access the get_grades web service.

CVE-2014-7832
Published: 2014-11-24
mod/lti/launch.php in the LTI module in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 performs access control at the course level rather than at the activity level, which allows remote authenticated users to bypass the mod/lti:view capability requirement by vi...

CVE-2014-7833
Published: 2014-11-24
mod/data/edit.php in Moodle through 2.4.11, 2.5.x before 2.5.9, 2.6.x before 2.6.6, and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 sets a certain group ID to zero upon a database-entry change, which allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information by accessing the database after an edit by a teacher.

CVE-2014-7834
Published: 2014-11-24
mod/forum/externallib.php in Moodle 2.6.x before 2.6.6 and 2.7.x before 2.7.3 does not verify group permissions, which allows remote authenticated users to access a forum via the forum_get_discussions web service.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?