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Hackers cost Paypal £3.5 million

by on23 November 2012

Student faces music in court

A UK court has been told that a student attacked the PayPal website as part of a concerted effort by Anonymous that cost the company £3.5 million. Christopher Weatherhead, 22, was studying at Northampton University when he allegedly took part in the campaign.

Weatherhead, from Northampton, denies a charge of conspiracy and has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to impair the operation of computers between 1 August 2010 and 22 January 2011. MasterCard, Visa, Ministry of Sound, the British Recorded Music Industry and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry were also hit as part of the same campaign.

Southwark Crown Court were told Ashley Rhodes, 27, from Camberwell, south London; Peter Gibson, 24, from Hartlepool; and another 18-year-old male have already pleaded guilty to the charge. Prosecutors said that PayPal was chosen after it refused, in December 2010, to process payments for the Wau Holland Foundation, which was raising money for WikiLeaks. Weatherhead, who used the online name Nerdo, posted plans on an IRC channel encouraging an attack on PayPal.

The prosecution claims that Weatherhead waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks that paralysed a series of targeted computer systems. Weatherhead used an internet service provider called Heihachi, which is based in Russia and boasted that Heihachi permitted anything, even child pornography.

On 27 January 2011 Weatherhead's home was raided and computer equipment were seized and his security passwords were variations on the words "Nerdo is the best (or worst) hacker in the world". Ever the gentleman, Weatherhead claimed the computer was his sister's.  

So far we have not heard his defence.

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