New York: US authorities today charged five members of the international hacking organisation known as Anonymous with carrying out cyber attacks against prominent
American companies and stealing confidential account information of over one million people.
A sixth hacker has pled guilty to a 12-count information charging him with computer hacking conspiracies and other crimes.
The hackers are aligned with the group Anonymous, a loose confederation of computer hackers and with other offshoot groups including `Internet Feds`, `LulzSec` and `AntiSec`.
Those charged with the computer hacking conspiracy are Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Darren Martyn, Jeremy Hammond and Donncha O’Cearrbhail.
Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as `Sabu`, pled guilty last year to the computer hacking conspiracies.
According to the indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, the men targetted networks of companies like Fox Broadcasting, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Hammond, who identified himself as a member of AntiSec, was arrested in Chicago and charged with crimes relating to the December 2011 hack of Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), a global intelligence firm in Texas, which may have affected approximately 860,000 victims.
He also stole credit card information of approximately 60,000 users and used some of the stolen data to make unauthorised charges exceeding USD 700,000.
He then publicly disclosed some of the confidential information he had stolen.
Monsegur and other members of Anonymous were responsible for a number of cyber attacks between December 2010 and June 2011 against the websites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, as retaliation for the refusal of these companies to process donations to website Wikileaks.
Between December 2010 and May 2011, members of Internet Feds engaged in a series of cyber attacks that included breaking into computer systems, stealing confidential information, publicly disclosing stolen confidential information, hijacking victims’ E mail and Twitter accounts and defacing victims` internet websites.
Specifically, Ackroyd, Davis, Martyn, O’Cearrbhail and Monsegur stole confidential data pertaining to 80,000 user accounts and hacked the computer systems of Fox Broadcasting from which they stole data relating to more than 70,000 potential contestants on Fox`s show `X-Factor`.
Like Internet Feds, LulzSec too undertook a campaign of malicious cyber assaults on the websites and computer systems of various business and governmental entities in the United States and throughout the world.
Specifically, the men hacked computer systems used by PBS in retaliation for what LulzSec perceived to be unfavorable news coverage.
LulzSec also stole confidential data concerning approximately 100,000 users of Sony’s website.
In January 2012, O’Cearrbhail hacked into the personal e-mail account of an officer with Ireland’s national police service `An Garda Siochana`.
Monsegur, 28, of New York pled guilty to the computer hacking conspiracy and faces a maximum sentence of 124 years and six months in prison.
Ackroyd, 23 and Davis 29 of United Kingdom and Martyn, 25 of Ireland are charged with two counts of computer hacking conspiracy and could each face 20 years in prison.
O’Cearrbhail, 19, of Ireland is charged with one count of computer hacking conspiracy, for which he faces 10 years in prison.
Hammond, 27 of Chicago faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.