‘Anonymous’ Hackers Convicted of Targeting PayPal, MasterCard

Four hackers from the online group “Anonymous” were convicted of conspiring to attack the websites of Visa Inc., PayPal Inc., MasterCard Inc. (MA) and others.

Christopher Weatherhead was found guilty today and three of his co-defendants -- Jake Birchall, Ashley Rhodes and Peter Gibson -- pleaded guilty earlier at a London criminal court to conspiring to impair the operation of computers, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today.

“Weatherhead is a cyber-criminal who waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks on the computer systems of several major companies,” said Russell Tyner, a lawyer from the prosecutors’ organized crime division.

The four also targeted the British Recorded Music Industry, Ministry of Sound and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, prosecutors said. The attacks cost the companies more than 3.5 million pounds ($5.6 million) in extra staffing, software and sales losses.

U.K. police have been investigating “hacktivist” collectives Anonymous and LulzSec for conducting denial-of- service attacks, which flood computer networks with requests for information until they shut down.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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