Alleged hacker in court accused of CIA attack

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An alleged hacker appeared in court yesterday accused of conspiring with three teenagers to bring down the websites of the CIA and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Ryan Ackroyd, 25, from South Yorkshire, is also charged with plotting to hack into the computer systems of the NHS and News International, the publisher of The Sun and until last year the News of the World.

Ackroyd is the last of four alleged members of online activists Lulz Security, or LulzSec, a spin-off of the loosely organised hacking collective Anonymous, to appear in court in Britain.

He faces two counts of conspiring with Jake Davis, 18, Ryan Cleary, 19, and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to do an unauthorised act with intent to impair or with recklessness as to impair the operation of a computer between February 1 and September 30 last year.

The indictment alleges the four plotted together and with others to carry out so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, where websites are flooded with traffic to make them crash.

They are accused of launching DDoS attacks on Serious Organised Crime Agency, the CIA, News International, Sony, US computer game firm Bethesda, web-based game Eve Online and the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, US, whose parishioners are known for their extreme stance against homosexuality and for their protests at military funerals.

The four are also charged with conspiring to hack into computers operated by the NHS, News International, Sony, Nintendo, film studio 20th Century Fox, US public broadcaster PBS, and US computer security organisations HBGary, Black & Berg and Infraguard.

Unemployed Ackroyd, of Oak Road, Mexborough, Doncaster, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Wearing blue jeans, a brown Bench zip-up top and white trainers, the alleged hacker spoke only to confirm his name and address.

District judge Howard Riddle granted him bail until a plea and case management hearing at Southwark Crown Court on May 11 on condition that he does not access the internet or have in his possession any device that could access the web.

LulzSec was formed last May. Lulz is internet slang that can be interpreted as “laughs”, “humour” or “amusement”.