British LulzSec Member Indicted For Hacking Fox, Sony, PBS Websites
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted a British man with ties to the group LulzSec (LulzSec), charging him with conspiracy and computer-related crimes for attacking websites owned by Fox, Sony Pictures and PBS, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The court indicted twenty-year-old Ryan Cleary on Tuesday on one count of conspiracy and two counts of the unauthorized impairment of protected computers.
In addition to the attacks against PBS, Sony and Fox, Cleary sought confidential information on contestants auditioning for “The X-Factor,” federal authorities charged.
If convicted, Cleary faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
According to the indictment (PDF file), federal authorities allege that between April 2011 and June 2011, Cleary conspired with members of LulzSec to intentionally damage the computer systems of Fox Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, and to steal confidential information, including data relating to contestants auditioning for ‘The X-Factor’.
The indictment also alleges that Cleary hacked into and defaced the PBS NewsHour website, and created a separate website where he and others published confidential information stolen from entertainment company computer systems.
Cleary is currently in custody in Britain, where he was arrested one year ago for allegedly running botnets and perpetrating DDoS attacks against the Serious Organized Crime Agency, British Phonographic Industry and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Federal officials said LulzSec is known for its affiliation with the hacktivist group Anonymous.
According to the indictment, Anonymous is a global collective of computer hackers and other individuals who conduct cyber attacks against those they perceive to be hostile to the group’s interests.
The federal government’s investigation was conducted by the Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles, which includes the FBI, U.S. Secret Service agents, the U.S. attorney’s office, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the California Highway Patrol.