A suspected member of the hacking group LulzSec, arrested a year ago in England, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for hacking into Websites of various entertainment firms and other companies during a two-month spree last year.
The three-count indictment, handed up June 12 in a U.S. District Court in California, accuses Ryan Cleary of conspiring with other members of LulzSec to hack into the Websites of such organizations as Fox Entertainment, PBS and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as into servers run by several hosting firms in the United States. Cleary also is accused of in a couple of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
The indictment against Cleary, posted online by the Los Angeles Times, comes more than a year after he was arrested in England, where he is still being held on charges in that country. He is charged with two counts of the unauthorized impairment of protected computers and one count of conspiracy, and could face as many as 25 years in prison in the United States if convicted.
LulzSec was a group of hackers akin to the older and better known Anonymous collective. It emerged last year, went on a binge of attacks and hacks, and then announced it was breaking up months later. By that time, authorities had arrested several alleged members, including Cleary.
However, authorities in the United States and Great Britain in March arrested five alleged top members of the group in an investigation that was made after the groups leader, Hector Xavier Monsegura 28-year-old unemployed New York City resident who called himself Sabu onlinewas arrested last year and began working with investigators.
According to the indictments, Cleary and others first hacked into the Fox Website in April 2011, stealing data from the television show "The X Factor," including confidential information on contestants. Over the next two months, Cleary allegedly participated in hacks of Sony and PBS, hacked into servers run by hosting firms QuadraNet and GigaNet, and conducted DDoS attacks against servers running the online game League of Legends and hosting the Website of Britains Serious Organized Crime Agency.
The May 2011 attack on the PBS site reportedly was in response to a Frontline piece about WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst accused of giving confidential information to WikiLeaks.
Cleary also is accused of trying to convince an associate who had been contacted by law enforcement authorities to give disinformation to investigators to lead them away from Cleary and other LulzSec members, according to the indictment.
In addition, Cleary and other members of LulzSec on June 2, 2011, allegedly posted some of the information stolen from Fox and Sony on a lulzsec.com Website created that same day.