In its ongoing pursuit to strike back at hackers, U.K. courts have convicted a member of Anonymous for conspiracy.
A London jury found Christopher Weatherhead, a 22-year-old self described \”hacktivist,\” guilty of carrying out a campaign of Distributed Denial of Service attacks against major credit card companies that refused to process online donations to WikiLeaks, according to the U.K.\’s Crown Prosecution Service. The conviction came after guilty pleas of three of Weatherhead\’s co-conspirators.
\”Christopher Weatherhead is a cyber criminal who waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks on the computer systems of several major companies,\” prosecutor for the CPS Organized Crime Division Russell Tyner said in a statement. \”These were lawful companies with ordinary customers and hard working employees. This was not a victimless crime.\”
Dubbed \”Operation Payback,\” Weatherhead and his comrades targeted MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal when the companies cut off access to WikiLeaks. They also launched a DDoS campaign against music industry companies involved in combating Internet piracy, including the British Recorded Music Industry, Ministry of Sound, and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
According to CPS, these two campaigns cost the companies more than $5.6 million in additional staffing, software, and loss of sales.
Weatherhead used the online nicknames \”Nerdo\” and \”NikonElite\” and, according to the Associated Press, was a student at the time he was nabbed by police.
This isn\’t the first Anonymous takedown by U.K. police. In March, authorities carried out a sweep of arrests of the loose-knit organization\’s top tier hackers. After the arrests, police announced that five men in the U.K., Ireland, New York, and Chicago had been charged with hacking-related offenses.
Weatherhead\’s sentencing is scheduled for January. According to the Associated Press, his conviction could result in up to 10 years in prison.