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07 December 2012, 10:24

Student convicted for PayPal DDoS attacks

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Christopher Weatherhead, a 22-year-old student from Northampton, has been convicted in a London court on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers under the 1977 Criminal Law Act. Weatherhead was arrested in January 2011 in connection with "Operation Payback", a series of prolonged Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that targeted PayPal and other web sites after they refused to process payments to Wikileaks. PayPal told the court that the attacks had cost it £3.5 million in damage repair and installation of defensive systems for future attacks.

Weatherhead is said to have coordinated the DDoS attacks through IRC chat rooms as the "communications manager" for a group of hackers belonging to the Anonymous collective, according to a report in The Guardian. Using the pseudonym "Nerdo", the court heard that he had organised the group and was apparently involved in picking targets for the attacks, but his defence maintained that he never took part in any DDoS actions himself. During the trial, he was portrayed as an idealist dreamer who joined Anonymous to protest against censorship on the internet. He told the court he had, at one time, dreamed of working for Amazon or Google.

Weatherhead was freed on bail until sentencing at an as yet unspecified date in January and was ordered to be electronically tagged. He is subject to a curfew and has been banned from using IRC and from posting messages online under any other name than his own.


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