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10 April 2013, 12:28

LulzSec: UK-based hackers plead guilty

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LulzSec logo Three members of the LulzSec hacker group have pleaded guilty at a UK court. They confessed to having planned and carried out attacks on third-party web sites together. Among their targets were various law enforcement agencies including the CIA and the UK's SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency).

The LulzSec hacker group's spectacular campaigns attracted a lot of publicity two years ago. The group had intruded into web servers such as those of the Sony Pictures film studio, the PBS news service, and security organisation InfraGard, where group members harvested user data and then released this data on the net with a fair amount of fanfare. Group members had also spied on security firm HBGary – shortly after the company's CEO had announced that HBGary would disclose the identities of various Anonymous activists.

LulzSec publicly disbanded in July 2011. However, this was far from being the end of the hacker group's story. In March 2012, police in the UK, Ireland and the US arrested six suspected LulzSec hackers. Back in 2011, the FBI had already apprehended a leading member of the group, 28-year-old New York resident Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu"). Sabu worked as an informer in the months that followed, which led to the arrest of other group members. Only one of the eight LulzSec hackers remains unknown – "Avunit" had disappeared in good time.

Four LulzSec members were arrested in the UK: Ryan Ackroyd (Kayla), Mustafa Al-Bassam (Tflow), Ryan Cleary (viraL) and Jake Davis (Topiary). Ackroyd, who is 26, was considered one of the group's more talented hackers; he had pretended to be a 16-year-old girl named "Kayla" even when talking to his accomplices. The 18-year-old Mustafa Al-Bassam was still a minor at the time of his arrest.

Cleary and Davis had already admitted their involvement in various LulzSec activities in June 2012. At that time, Ackroyd and Al-Bassam were still pleading innocent. Now, Ackroyd has pleaded guilty to at least one of the charges and Al-Bassam has admitted his role in the attacks. The four UK-based hackers are due to be sentenced on 14 May.

Meanwhile, Hector Xavier Monsegur, who was originally due to be sentenced in August 2012, had already got the FBI to get his sentencing deferred until the 22 February, at which time the sentencing was further deferred to 23 August 2013.


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