Paul Bedwith, 19, is charged in the first case of its kind in the UK with conspiring to use telecommunications dishonestly, conspiring to gain unauthorised access to computers and to make unauthorised modifications to information on computers. He told police he did nothing to gain financially and passed on no secrets. He denies the charges.
The second and third charges are the first for conspiracy to breach the Computer Misuse Act of 1990, and this is the first case in which conspirators are said to have communicated entirely by electronic means.
James Richardson, for the prosecution, told Southwark Crown Court that Mr Bedwith gained access to computers in many countries from a micro-computer in his bedroom in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. He was able to exploit security gaps in these systems to give himself 'root status' - total control over the system.
Mr Richardson said that Mr Bedwith was asked by a detective why he did it and replied: 'I suppose it's just the challenge of getting 'root' - it's a kind of addiction, isn't it?'
When arrested, he was just under 18. He told police he had been hacking for 'two or three years'.
Mr Richardson said Mr Bedwith's co-defendants, Karl Strickland, 22, of Liverpool and Neil Woods, 20, of Oldham, had pleaded guilty. There was no doubt that there had been a conspiracy; the question was whether Mr Bedwith had been involved.