After being convicted in December of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers, hacker Christopher Weatherhead was sentenced to 18 months in a British jail, according to PC Mag. One of Weatherhead’s accomplices, Ashley Rhodes, was sentenced to seven months in lockdown. Both were affiliated with the Anonymous collective hacking group.
The charges against Weathehead and Rhodes stem from their roles in computer attacks against the websites of MasterCard, Visa, Amazon, and several companies which reportedly were launched when the companies withdrew their support from Wikileaks. With the help of other hackers, Weatherhead, who went by the names “Nerdo” and “NikonElite,” participated in the attacks in late 2010.
“Operation Payback” is believed to have caused about $5.5 million worth of damages.
The judge in the case, Peter Testar, said the actions of the hackers were “unacceptable” and involved “serious offending.” He added: “The world in which we live is such that everybody relies on the internet for everything, especially in commerce. It is intolerable that when an individual or group disagrees with some particular entity’s activity they should be free to curtail that activity by way of attacks such as those that occurred in this case,” according to The Daily Mail.
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One of the biggest victims of the actions of “Operation Payback” was payment and money-moving website PayPal. The website was attacked for nine days during the Christmas season, causing delays to payments for gift purchases and prompting the company to assign 104 staff members to come up with a defense strategy.
After the attacks a message left by the hackers reportedly read: “You’ve tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung.”
Although they are now going to be serving jail time for crimes they committed together, the conspirators had never met in-person before appearing in court.