Ryan Cleary and another member of the LulzSec “hacktivist” group, pleaded guilty to disrupting websites at Sony Corp., the Central Intelligence Agency and News Corp. while denying they illegally posted confidential data.
Cleary, 20, pleaded guilty to six of eight charges filed by London prosecutors at a hearing today. Jake Davis, another LulzSec member, pleaded guilty to two of four charges. They also admitted to attacking websites that belonged to Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, the online role-playing game Eve Online, and Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Cleary, from Wickford, England, also admitted to installing or altering files on Pentagon computers operated by the U.S. Air Force and constructing a network of computers, known as a botnet, which could perform distributed denial of service attacks and of directing it to target websites operated by a U.K. web hosting site. Denial-of-service attacks flood computer networks with requests for information until they shut down.
Two other defendants, Ryan Ackroyd, 25, and a 17-year-old man who can’t be identified for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to four charges. They denied attacking websites and to illegally acquiring and posting confidential information to websites including LulzSec.com and Pirate Bay.
Judge Alistair McCreath said a trial, to last as long as eight weeks, should begin in April. The Westboro Baptist Church has staged anti-homosexual demonstrations at military funerals.
Cleary, who was first arrested in June, has been in jail since March 6 when he was detained 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, and an informant for the U.S. 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. used the name Topiary online and acted as LulzSec’s spokesman. Ackroyd, 25, and the 17-year-old suspect were arrested and charged in March.