LulzSec hacking duo plead guilty to string of attacks against US and UK websites

Ryan Cleary and Jake DavisTwo members of the notorious LulzSec hacking gang, accused of attacking high profile websites belonging to the likes of the CIA, Pentagon, US Senate. The Sun, Sony, PBS and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), have pleaded guilty in court to some of the charges against them.

18-year-old Jake Davis (known as “Topiary”) and 19-year-old Ryan Cleary appeared in the dock of Southwark Crown Court to enter guilty pleas to charges under the Criminal Law Act and Computer Misuse Act.

Davis, who under his “Topiary” handle became the LulzSec group’s principal spokesperson from his base in the Shetland Islands, admitted to two of the four charges against him, including his involvement in the attack on SOCA’s website.

Cleary admitted to six of eight charges against him, including attacking CIA and US Air Force computers based at the Pentagon.

CIA website down

Both men told the court that they are not guilty of charges that they illegally acquired and posted confidential information obtained through hacking, such as passwords and credit card details.

Cleary, who was jailed last year for breaching his bail conditions by contacting another LulzSec member, also faces charges in the United States.

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Regular readers will remember that Cleary is the man who was described by The Sun newspaper upon his arrest as a “geek”, “nerd” and “oddball”.

The Sun's report on the arrest of Ryan ClearyIt is speculated that that media report may have angered other members of LulzSec, and motivated the hacking group’s attack the following month against The Sun.

The attack against The Sun newspaper saw phone numbers, email address and passwords of News International employees posted on the internet.

Meanwhile, website visitors were presented with a false news story claiming that News International founder Rupert Murdoch had died after ingesting a “large quantity of palladium”, and stumbled into his “famous topiary garden”.

Bogus news story

Ryan Ackroyd, 25, who is suspected of being the hacker known as “Kayla”, plead not guilty to all four charges brought against him. A 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons also gave a plea of not guilty against four charges.

The four are scheduled to face trial on 8 April 2013.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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