Ryan Cleary, a 20-year-old member of the LulzSec “hacktivist” group, installed or altered files on Pentagon computers that were controlled by the U.S. Air Force, British prosecutors said in a court document.
Cleary, from Wickford, England, appeared at a court hearing yesterday in London with three co-defendants who were arrested as part of a joint U.K. and U.S. investigation into computer-hacking attacks.
Cleary, Jake Davis, Ryan Ackroyd and a 17-year-old who can’t be identified were charged with conspiring with others in LulzSec and the hacking collectives Internet Feds and Anonymous last year to access computers, according to an updated indictment filed by British prosecutors. They are accused of accessing computers operated by News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Corp., the U.K.’s National Health Service, the Arizona State Police, and technology-security company HBGary Inc.
The hackers modified some of the computers, including adjusting security settings and access to confidential data, and sometimes redirected visitors to their own sites, prosecutors said in the filing. They also posted confidential data to public websites including LulzSec.com and Pirate Bay, prosecutors said.
They are scheduled to enter pleas in the case on June 25, Judge Alistair McCreath said at yesterday’s hearing.
Rivers Johnson, a spokesman for U.S. Cyber Command, declined to comment on the case.
Cleary, who has been in custody since March 6 when he was arrested for breaching his bail conditions, was charged with accessing the Pentagon computers between May 1 and June 22 of last year. He also faces charges of constructing a network of computers, known as a botnet, which could perform distributed denial of service attacks and of directing it to attack websites operated by web-hosting provider Dreamhost.
Cleary was first arrested in June by the Metropolitan Police and arrested a second time for violating his bail terms by talking to a hacker known as Sabu four times on an Internet chat room using a mobile phone.
Sabu is Hector Xavier Monsegur, a member of Anonymous, Internet Feds and LulzSec, who is an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Monsegur, who pleaded guilty to U.S. charges in August, told Cleary that he hadn’t been arrested and wasn’t under investigation.
Davis, a 19-year-old from the Shetland Islands in Scotland who used the name Topiary online and acted as LulzSec’s spokesman, was arrested in July. Ackroyd, 25, and the 17-year-old suspect were arrested and charged in March.
According to the new indictment, the four men also targeted denial of service attacks against: Westboro Baptist Church, which has staged anti-homosexual demonstrations at military funerals; the online role-playing game Eve Online; the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency; and Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.