22-year-old Anonymous hacktivist Christopher Weatherhead has been found guilty on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers.
Weatherhead and three other individuals have been charged with launching distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against the systems of PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the British Recorded Music Industry and the Ministry of Sound.
The attacks were launched as part of OpPayback, a campaign initiated after PayPal froze the accounts of whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The other three hackers pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers back in January, March and July 2012. Weatherhead was the only one who maintained his innocence.
During the trial against the hacktivists, PayPal claimed
that it had lost £3.5 million ($5.6 million / 4.3 million EUR) as a result of the attacks. The company’s representatives revealed that 100 workers spent three weeks to address the damage caused by the cyberattacks.
“Christopher Weatherhead is a cyber criminal who waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks on the computer systems of several major companies,” said
Russell Tyner, Crown Advocate for the CPS Organised Crime Division.
“A self-styled ‘hacktivist’, Weatherhead and his fellow conspirators targeted companies in the music industry involved in combating internet piracy and companies that had stopped processing online donations to WikiLeaks. Their campaign of attacks cost these companies over £3.5 million in additional staffing, software and loss of sales,” he added.
“These were lawful companies with ordinary customers and hard working employees. This was not a victimless crime.”
The Guardian reports
that the hacker was released on bail until January, when the sentencing takes place. According to AP
, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.