Anonymous PayPal Hackers Jailed in UK

Dennis Faas's picture

Two men claiming to belong to the loosely-organized international 'hacktivist' group Anonymous have now been sentenced to jail terms in England. The men were convicted of carrying out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in support of WikiLeaks.

The convicted men include 22-year-old Christopher Weatherhead and 28-year-old Ashley Rhodes. They were found guilty of conspiring to impair the operation of computers.

Weatherhead received an 18-month jail term, while Rhodes was sentenced to seven months behind bars. (Source:

PayPal 'Stung' by DDoS Attack

According to British authorities, the two men directed their DDoS attacks to overwhelm specific websites with bogus online requests. One of the victimized sites was the payment service PayPal, which reportedly suffered a loss of roughly $7 million from the attacks.

After the two men helped carry out the DDoS attacks, visitors to the PayPal site were reportedly re-directed to a bogus web page displaying the message: "You've tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung."

The attacks of which the men were convicted were reportedly carried out between early August 2010 and late January 2011. (Source:

Attacks Part of Anonymous' "Operation Payback"

Prosecutors said the websites chosen for the attacks were hand-picked by Anonymous.

The DDoS campaign was part of the hacktivist group's 'Operation Payback,' which targeted financial websites that refused to accept funds intended to support Julian Assange's WikiLeaks.

Visa and Mastercard also cut their ties to WikiLeaks, and were also targeted by Anonymous hackers as part of Operation Payback. The precise financial impact of the attacks on these firms has not yet been made public.

The UK judge ruling on this case, Judge Peter Testar, said he was impressed that investigators were able to crack Anonymous' carefully constructed "wall of anonymity." (Source:

Judge Testar went on to chastise the defendants as follows: "It is intolerable that when an individual or a group disagrees with a particular entity's activities, they should be free to curtail that activity by means of attacks such as those which took place in this case."

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