Lulzsec members admit cyber attacks on CIA and Serious Organised Crime Agency

Jake Davis and Mustafa Al-Bassam also pleaded guilty to blocking access to Sony, News International and the Westboro Baptist Church

Three members of the high profile internet “hacktivist” group LulzSec have admitted to their parts in a series of cyber attacks against targets which included the CIA, the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and News International, a court heard today.

Jake Davis, 20, and 18-year-old Mustafa Al-Bassam, who can be named for the first time today, have both pleaded guilty to attacks on websites belonging to the two agencies, as well as Sony, News International and the NHS.

And they, along with accomplices Ryan Ackroyd, 26, also admitted hacking into the systems of Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and a US police force in bids to steal data and redirect visitors to spoof sites. Fellow defendant Ryan Cleary, 21, had already pleaded guilty on the same charges, as well as four other related ones and all four men now await sentencing.

As Ackroyd issued a last-minute change of plea to guilty at Southwark Crown Court today, prosecutor Sandip Patel told the court: “He was the hacker, so to speak, they turned to him for his expertise as a hacker”, and said Ackroyd admitted using the persona of a 16-year-old girl Kayla online.

The group, an offshoot of the “Anonymous” hacktivists, caused an international stir as they coordinated high profile attacks against some of the world’s biggest companies and intelligence agencies in 2011, often from their bedrooms. It was later revealed that their de facto leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka “Sabu”, had been turned by the US authorities following his own arrest.

Apart from hacking into sites, the group carried out non-hacking attacks - called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) - in a bid to block access to the websites they targeted. DDoS, one of the most common attacks used by online activism groups, work by bombarding websites with traffic until they cannot deal with the weight and cease to load.

The group used a system which allows them to infect and, thereby, take control of other people’s computers - called a botnet – to carry out the attacks. The tactic, one of the most commonly used by similar groups, allows them to use the computers in their power to blast target sites with amplified volumes of traffic.

The full extent of LulzSec’s campaign was revealed as members of the group admitted to their parts in DDoS attacks on the CIA, SOCA, News International and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. They also attacked gaming sites Bethesda and Eve Online.

And their hacking campaign took in the NHS, Sony and Twentieth Century Fox. They also targeted HBGary, which was allegedly looking to infiltrate hacktivist groups, US Public Broadcasting Service Inc, FBI contractor Infragard, Nintendo and the Arizona State Police. And they carried out another attack on News International.

The attacks were carried out with other, unknown members of the groups LulzSec, Anonymous and Internet Feds.

Davis, Al-Bassam and Cleary all admitted to the same count of launching DDoS attacks, which prosecutors agreed could lie on file in respect of Ackroyd. All four admitted another count of computer hacking, while Cleary alone admitted a further four hacktivism-related counts, with two more lying on file.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all