back to article Brit mastermind of Anonymous PayPal attack gets 18 months' porridge

A British member of the hacking group Anonymous was jailed today for orchestrating attacks that knocked PayPal, Visa and Mastercard offline. Christopher Weatherhead, 22, who used the online nickname "Nerdo" and was described by prosecutors as "a high-level operator", was sent down for 18 months by Southwark Crown Court. Ashley …

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Anonymous Coward

When?

When is the UK going to get serious about proper punishment for digital crimes? Until they adopt Japan's punishment which is a mandatory 2 years in jail for pirates and 10 years for hackers, more degenerates in the UK will continue their cyber crimes because all they will ever get is a slap on the wrist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When?

You're joking right?

What they did was no different from this: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/10/282875/french-taxis-clog-transportation-links/

And I couldn't find any information implying those taxi drivers had to go to jail or do any time. The people who committed this attack should be treated the same.

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@AC2

I don't think you can seriously compare that.

The protest of those taxi drivers was announced (so people could prepare); the protest blocked roads, sure, but also left roads open so that transportation was hindered but not totally rendered impossible. Also; it was a local action (Paris) which didn't hinder the rest of the country nor the rest of the world.

And most of all; the actions of said taxi drivers didn't prevent grandma from picking up her groceries and paying for them.

The attack on those websites weren't merely hindering those financial companies; they also made it completely impossible for several consumers all around the world to get things done, effectively not merely hindering but /preventing/ certain people from simply earning their income.

Part of that was due to the fact that their actions were never announced; otherwise one could argue that vendors and others could have prepared for the outage.

I have no opinion on the sentences themselves, but I do think you can't quite compare these two situations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When?

Rediculously harsh sentence. Even community service would have been over the top.

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Meh

Now while he is inside

He can educate his cell mates in the fine art of computer crime.

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Trollface

Not so anonymous then...

Bet he is regretting verifying his paypal address now!

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Headmaster

Re: When?

@AC 24th January 2013 20:56 GMT

Rediculously harsh sentence.

I ridicule your rediculous spelling.

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Re: When?

Seriously are you mad? Do you know the damage a DDOS attack can cause or cost? The attacks don't just effect Paypal but thousands of other companies who are using the same upstream providers. Not to mention the people who couldn't do business because Paypal was down. That attack cost millions of Euros of damage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC2

Wow. So you say the taxi drivers were ok to disrupt traffic because there were other routes for people to accomplishing their goals.

Well, same in this case. Sure you couldn't use a MasterCard but you could use cash, check, money order, wire transfer, etc.

They only disrupted the best way of transferring funds.

I haven't spent much time thinking about a DDOS being a valid form of protest but after reading your insensitive rant I'm starting to agree that it maybe it should be compared to people who lie in front of the entrance to a building or block a road. Illegal but usually a misdemeanor with no jail time.

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Happy

We "were" legion

Title says it all

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Re: We "were" legion

We were Anonymous. We were Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us when we get out.

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Happy

Re: We "were" legion

..... expect us in 9 months (assuming we keep our noses clean) at the nearest branch of Boots buying bottom soothing Sudocrem......

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Great...............

For forcing thousands to change their passwords he was lucky. I would have given him to the american legal system for a corrupt trial and sentence.

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Re: Great...............

"For forcing thousands to change their passwords he was lucky. I would have given him to the american legal system for a corrupt trial and sentence."

Where he would be having a 'bubberly time'. That reminds me, what's the status of St Julian of Mendacity? (Not that I'll be posting again for a while... ...it's not been possible for a month, and may not be for another barring this short interlude; hello downvoters, don't forget to fire up the LOIC and to break out your toy soldier/whatever grabs your attention deficit riddled excuses for brains.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great...............

Yep. That justice system probably would've gotten him to commit suicide prior to it even going to court ala Aaron Swartz.

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Works for me

It would have saved the tax payer both the court and imprisonment costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Works for me

Trying to figure out how this person hurt you so much that you would rather they were killed.

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Re: Works for me

More a case that this person committed a crime. This person will now spend probably 9 months with accommodation and food paid for by the tax player player playing on a prison play station. I'm not going to lose too much sleep if they decide that they can't face the consequences of their own actions.

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Anonymous Coward

Well at least...

...there is none of this plea bargaining nonsense and a sentence is a sentence. I trust UK law more than US law in this regard.

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FAIL

Re: Well at least...

In the states they would be looking at decades as judges seek favours with big-money sources for their next election.

American justice - crime personified.

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Stop

Re: Well at least...

"...there is none of this plea bargaining nonsense and a sentence is a sentence. I trust UK law more than US law in this regard."

Of course there probably was. Two of them plead guilty, which is in itself a plea bargain, as it saves the expense of going to court and the uncertainty of trial. It was the one who thought he could get away with it and took it to court who got the heavier sentence.

I can only suspect that you've never been arrested, as plea bargaining essentially starts right from the get-go. For example, you accepting a fixed penalty for speeding is a plea-bargain. You *could* go to court and fight it Premier-League-Footballer 'I didn't know what constabulary meant, so I threw the letter away' style, but you accept liability for you actions and save everyone a lot of pi$$ing around instead. Sit in an interview room and the first tactic is to get you to 'fess up, so it will 'go easy on you'.

Plea bargaining in one way or another is an essential part of the legal system, as it stops *every* case clogging up our courts (which are already grossly over-worked). The likes of you and I take those options if we know that we did the crime, because we see it as reasonable, and only those who are innocent and feel genuinely aggrieved, or who have expensive lawyers and are guilty, or the professional criminal under-classes who take things to Court.

The afore-mentioned criminal underclass know that there is a good chance that witnesses won't show up at court and the case will be thrown out if they don't. So they drag it to court saying 'No comment' to the police's every question and hope for that outcome. If the witness DOES show, they change their pleas to Guilty 5 minutes before the case is heard and get away with a lighter sentence anyway, having wasted everyone's time.

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Re: Plea bargaining in one way or another is an essential part of the legal system

I generally concur with your post, but specifically disagree with your assertion that only the guilty accept a plea bargain. Also while recognizing that it is factually correct that the courts are over-worked, given that they themselves have contributed significantly to that status, I find it difficult to grant them dispensation for it.

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Pint

Re: Plea bargaining in one way or another is an essential part of the legal system

"I generally concur with your post, but specifically disagree with your assertion that only the guilty accept a plea bargain."

I'd make no such assertion, having been in just that situation myself and been brow-beaten into accepting a bargain. If I didn't communicate that clearly, then I apologise.

" Also while recognizing that it is factually correct that the courts are over-worked, given that they themselves have contributed significantly to that status, I find it difficult to grant them dispensation for it."

How do you think that they contributed to that?

If you mean defence lawyers dragging their heels, encouraging clients to play the system, and the CPS being chronically over-worked, then yes. I don't really see that as the fault of the CPS, though.

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FAIL

I forget

Were these the 4 that were ratted out by their own anon buddy, or were these the ones who got caught by Scotland Yard because they openly used their Xbox handles on the anon IRC? Or were they just caught because they were dumb enough to use the ion cannons which broadcast their IP address to the whole universe?

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Re: I forget

Perhaps they were caught because they broke the law?

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Re: I forget

It seems they were caught by the Police, I rather like the quote -

In his sentencing remarks, Testar said: "The defendants were actually rather arrogant. They thought they were far too clever to be caught and used various methods to try to cloak and preserve their anonymity. It seems to me that the police were a little bit more clever than the conspirators."

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Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

I wouldn't want to form an opinion based on what I've just read. However, the criminal (as he is now, in law) does at least face the prospect of getting out of jail (and fairly soon, if he behaves) and leading a normal life. Whether the sentence was sufficient for the crime he committed is another matter.

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Happy

Re: Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

"......getting out of jail .....and leading a normal life...." Maybe. Apart from the fact he now has a criminal record that will dog his immediate job prospects, maybe for the rest of his life, he also has to wait and see if PayPal and the other victims decide to sue for losses occurring from the attacks. I also suspect that his future computer activities and acquaintances will be monitored for years to come.

Of course, I wouldn't want to suggest his light sentence had anything to do with him singing like a canary. No, I'm sure he manned up and kept schtum about all his Anonyputz buddies..... Would you trust this guy enough to involve him in a future cyber gang? Probably not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

He was studying at Northampton "University". With that on his CV, Prison time can only improve his chances of employment.

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Re: Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

"Of course, I wouldn't want to suggest his light sentence had anything to do with him singing like a canary."

18months is fairly near the top end of what you get from computer crimes, http://www.computerevidence.co.uk/Cases/CMA.htm

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Re: Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

"Of course, I wouldn't want to suggest his light sentence had anything to do with him singing like a canary. No, I'm sure he manned up and kept schtum about all his Anonyputz buddies..... Would you trust this guy enough to involve him in a future cyber gang? Probably not."

Well, at least he'll not be sharing a cell in a privately run jail, with a man called Bubba, where it delivers more shareholder value to keep you longer, if they can find an excuse.

Of course, if I was to go purely on El Reg's article, I might think he's be found guilty by association. I'd hope the plods had rather more evidence against him than who he spoke to.

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Boffin

Re: Re: Not a terrible lot of facts in the reporting

".....at least he'll not be sharing a cell in a privately run jail, with a man called Bubba....." A lot of the UK's lower security prisons are indeed run by private companies. Prisoner spearation is not exactly high on the agenda, which means even those on remand awaiting trial can get shoved in with some quite nasty pieces of work.

"....I might think he's be found guilty by association....." What matters is what the judge and jury thought, and they saw enough convincing evidence to send him down.

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As an aside

"It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its activity"

There's something vaguely disturbing about the word "intolerable" here. Companies do not have carte blanche to act as they will.

What's next down that line of reasoning? Getting thrown in jail for writing bad press on Nike or Apple about workers' right abuses? Getting jail time for fighting Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big etc etc etc?

Just an aside, not a comment really on the justice or not of this particular case

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@5.antiago: Re: As an aside

"What's next down that line of reasoning? Getting thrown in jail for writing bad press on Nike or Apple about workers' right abuses? Getting jail time for fighting Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big etc etc etc?"

The only (recent) attempt of which I am aware, to stifle freedom of speech and restrict Americans' First Amendment rights for the benefit of large corporations, is Sen Ron Wyden's (Fascist-OR) IRFA bill, which would make criticism of direct licensing by music by tech companies an actionable offense. See for example a few of my posts on this site or more directly http://thetrichordist.com/2012/11/29/congressional-research-service-memo-on-constitutionality-of-irfa-section-5/

More generally, aside from Wyden's attempt to abridge the First Amendment, "speech" and "actions" are considered separate species of behavior.

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Re: @5.antiago: As an aside

"It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its activity"

There's something vaguely disturbing about the word "intolerable" here. Companies do not have carte blanche to act as they will.

Nor do individuals and when you carry out activities that stop companies going about there business there are laws that can get you imprisoned.

What's next down that line of reasoning? Getting thrown in jail for writing bad press on Nike or Apple about workers' right abuses? Getting jail time for fighting Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big etc etc etc?

You could indeed get thrown in jail for writing bad press on Nike etc. Ever heard of Libel?

Just an aside, not a comment really on the justice or not of this particular case

I would give these 'asides' a miss you don't seem to know enough to comment on Justice or not as the case may be.

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Devil

Re: As an aside

I was just thinking the same. Doesn't Greenpeace regularly practice "interfering with [the] activity" of companies they consider morally reprehensible?

How about government regulators? Oh I see, no danger there of interfering with corporate activities...

What the judge seemed to mean was (FTFY) "It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its questionable economic activities"

Anyway Paypal supports scams - I have first hand experience of being scammed through Paypal - as far as I'm concerned Anonymous didn't do enough damage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @5.antiago: Libel

Libel is civil a offence in the UK == no gaol time

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Devil

Re: As an aside

I was just thinking the same. Doesn't Greenpeace regularly practice "interfering with [the] activity" of companies they consider morally reprehensible?

Greenpeace are a legitimate protest group who publish a clear agenda. On occasions I personally agree with their actions and other times not. That aside they are prepared to ‘stand up and be counted’, as such achieve results and also get my respect.

Greenpeace are not a couple of emotionally retarded wonks who arbitrarily decide to hack a legitimate business. A decision based on the arrogant believe they won’t get caught ..... I think the phrase is ‘do the crime do the time’.

How about government regulators? Oh I see, no danger there of interfering with corporate activities...

How about the work and factories acts. This is a piece of legislation that stops the evil machinations of the big corporations? No doubt the judge involved in this case would have no qualms about convicting a company for this one, same as he has convicted these hackers.

Just out of interest what government regulator would need to regulate PayPal?

What the judge seemed to mean was (FTFY) "It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its questionable economic activities"

What questionable activities?

Anyway Paypal supports scams - I have first hand experience of being scammed through Paypal - as far as I'm concerned Anonymous didn't do enough damage.

I too have had fraudulent experiences with PayPal, and some others, it doesn’t mean that I agree with hackers committing further criminal activities against those organisations. Just for you, putting it simply, ‘two wrongs do not make a right’.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As an aside

Too Illiterate; Didn't Read

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Boffin

@AC Posted Friday 25th January 2013 10:56 GMT

Sorry to hear about your illiteracy and reading problems. Maybe you need to find a more appropriate forum?

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Pint

Re: @AC Posted Friday 25th January 2013 10:56 GMT

"Sorry to hear about your illiteracy and reading problems. Maybe you need to find a more appropriate forum?"

I hear The Sun and Daily Mail are keen to get more advertising revenue thanks to forum posters...

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They should have received 18 years each.

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Anonymous Coward

how much?

Would be interesting to know if the defence sought disclosure of the basis of the Paypal figure of 3.5 million in damage this caused.

After all, pulling a number out of the arse of a magic elephant to use as "evidence" to make something look much worse than it actually is seems to happen rather a lot in our justice system.

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"It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its activity," he said.

A blanket statement like that seems rather short-sighted and small-minded. If workers are being treated truly unfairly, they should be able to try to make changes, no? Heck, if you don't like working, shouldn't you have the freedom to quit, even if the company doesn't want you to because you quitting might "interfere with its activity"?

Yes, it's a fine line, but this judge seems to say that the line doesn't exist and that no company should have its activities interfered with for any reason.

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Flame

He probably said that

because he liekly owns shares in more than a few of them.

Judges and magistrates should not be allowed to own any shares in any company whatsoever, because the obvious conflict of interest becomes very evident when they come out with comments like that. They get paid enough that they don't need to own shares to make themselves even richer.

In fact, the principle of the judiciary not being allowed to own shares shouldn't merely be law; it should be a mainstay of jurisprudence on par with innocence unless proven guilt and freedom of speech.

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"Heck, if you don't like working, shouldn't you have the freedom to quit, even if the company doesn't want you to because you quitting might "interfere with its activity"?"

You're really not in the same league - most companies would be hard pushed to argue any individual was so critical to their operation that leaving would interfere with its activity, (there are a few, and you can insure against losing them), and employment rights are enshrined in law - that's why you have a notice period - to permit the company to put measures in place to replace you.

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Pint

Re: He probably said that

"They get paid enough that they don't need to own shares to make themselves even richer."

So you'd happily have to spend your days dealing with the worst that humanity can offer, hated by every criminal you've ever jailed and have to constantly worry about walking the streets and potentially the safety of your material goods and family for a hundred grand a year?

I suspect that getting the key-scratches polished out of their cars probably stretches to at least a grand a year, for a start!

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Devil

War!

"It's intolerable that where an individual or a group disagrees with a company they should be able to interfere with its activity,"

But isn't that the basis of war?

Just replace "company" with "country"

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they killed cops first in Chechnya BTW

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IT Angle

Who ?

.... Christopher Jan Weatherhead and Ashley Rhodes ... by heck they do get around

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