Four British hackers who perpetrated high-profile cyberattacks against the CIA, Sony Pictures PBS and law-enforcement agencies were sentenced today at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Three of the men — Jake Davis, 19, aka " Topiary," Ryan Ackroyd, 26, aka " Kayla " and Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, aka " Tflow " — were key members of the international hacking group LulzSec, or Lulz Security, which went on a 50-day hacking spree in the spring of 2011 after spinning off from the larger Anonymous hacktivist movement.
Davis received a sentence of 24 months in a facility for younger offenders. Ackroyd, a former soldier in the British Army, will serve 30 months in prison.
Al-Bassam, who was a juvenile at the time of the offenses, received a 20-month suspended sentence and will have to complete 300 hours of community service.
The fourth man, Ryan Cleary, 21, aka "ViraL," received a prison sentence of 32 months. Cleary was not a core member of LulzSec, but prosecutors alleged he supplied the group with a 100,000-computer-strong botnet, or network of linked computers under the secret control of a hacker.
LulzSec used Cleary's botnet to overwhelm sites with bogus traffic in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, making them inaccessible to legitimate users.
Websites that LulzSec hit in DDoS attacks included those of the CIA ( on a dare ), Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency and various gaming websites.
More serious attacks included break-ins into servers belonging to the U.S. Senate and game developer Bethesda Softworks. LulzSec also broke into Nintendo's servers, but touched nothing, and alerted Britain's National Health Service that its servers needed more security.
Hundreds of sensitive law-enforcement documents were leaked after a hack into the Arizona Department of Public Safety. LulzSec also posted the sensitive personal details of 74,000 people who entered a contest for the American edition of the television show "The X Factor."
LulzSec also humorously defaced the websites of PBS and the British newspaper The Sun, kept a witty Twitter feed (mostly written by Davis), hosted a website that played the "Love Boat" theme upon loading and even set up a telephone request line to take suggestions for targets.
In court today, Judge Deborah Taylor told the hackers that their crimes' "planned and persistent" nature factored into her sentencing decision. Andrew Hadik, a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, called the hackers actions' "cowardly and vindictive."
"This is not about young immature men messing about," said prosecutor Sandip Patel, the news agency Reuters reported. "They are at the cutting edge of a contemporary and emerging species of international criminal offending known as cybercrime."
Monsegur has been instrumental in assisting law enforcement in identifying members of Anonymous and LulzSec.