PayPal Hackers Convicted
December 6, 2012

Anonymous Hacker Convicted 2 Years After Bringing Down PayPal

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Some Anonymous hackers have once again faced the long arm of the law as a London jury has convicted a 22-year old hacker for attacking the MasterCard, PayPal and Visa websites in 2010.

All told, 4 members of the rogue hacking collective known as “Anonymous” have now been convicted for bringing these sites down, an attack which originated against members of the music industry. Christopher Weatherford pleaded guilty and was convicted today on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers. Jake Birchall, Ashely Rhodes and Peter Gibson had pleaded guilty to the same crime earlier in the year.

“Christopher Weatherford is a cyber criminal who waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks on the computer systems of several major companies,” explained Russell Tyner, the Crown Advocate for the CPS Organized Crime Division in a statement.

“These were lawful companies with ordinary customers and hard working employees. This was not a victimless crime.”

Weatherford operated under the name “Nerdo” and was found to be a leading player in “Operation Payback,” a DDoS attack against the Web sites.

The group had originally intended to target members of the music industry after they tried to protect their businesses by standing against piracy. The hackers changed their targets when MasterCard, PayPal and Visa stopped taking online donations to support Julian Assange and Wikileaks. According to Tyner, these attacks cost the companies more than $5 million in additional staffing, security and lost sales.

These members of Anonymous spent 10 days attacking the websites, leaving behind a banner on which read: "You've tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung."

Weatherford and the other 3 hackers could face jail time for these attacks.

"I want to have as much information as possible before deciding what should happen in the case of these four men," said Judge Peter Testar, speaking to Weatherford during his court hearing.

"I think these are serious offenses to my mind, and I hope the defendant understands that."

During the trial, Weatherford had admitted to spending up to 10 hours a day on the Internet and had dreamt of one day working with tech heavyweights Amazon and Google. Although he denied having any part in the actual attacks, he was found to be a main player for Anonymous, acting as the communications manager and creating the chatrooms where these attacks were planned.

When asked if he was ever nervous while these attacks were taking place, he responded: “Yes.”

"I was quite interested. I did not believe that what was being discussed was actually possible."

Weatherford said he agreed with the stances taken by Anonymous, saying: "I like the freedom of information that is on the web. I enjoy spending a lot of time on Wikipedia reading things. When you can't get information I feel abashed by that.”

Weatherford will be sentenced in January. Until his court date, he has been ordered to wear an electronic tag and must remain in his parent´s house from midnight to 4 AM.