The Doncaster ex-soldier who commanded a group of young computer hackers when they launched sophisticated cyber attacks on major global institutions has been jailed.
Ryan Ackroyd, aged 26, masterminded the cyber attack operation from the bedroom of his home in Oak Road, Mexborough, two years ago.
Three of the four hackers, who believed they were the ‘Gods of Cyberspace’ and brought havoc to CIA, FBI and NHS computers, were jailed for over seven years at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Ackroyd was jailed for 30 months for his part in the plot in which the LulzSec group waged an online war costing major organisations and companies at least £50 million.
They brought down networks at firms like Sony, Nintendo, Fox News and News International and stole hundreds of thousands of personal details which were then published online.
LulzSec even targeted the US version of X Factor and posted contestant details on the internet.
The court heard Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Mustafa Al-Bassam and Ryan Cleary considered themselves to be ‘latter-day pirates’ when they stole sensitive personal data including emails, online passwords and credit card details belonging to millions of people.
News International, the NHS and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency were also victims of the group, who lived as far apart as London and the Shetland Islands and never met in person.
Sentencing them, Judge Deborah Taylor said the taunting of their victims “makes chilling reading”.
“You cared nothing for the privacy of others but did everything you could through your computer activities to hide your own identities while seeking publicity,” she said.
Ackroyd pleaded guilty to one charge of carrying out an unauthorised act to impair the operation of a computer. The Iraq veteran used the online persona of a 16-year-old girl called Kayla.
The prosecution said Ackroyd was the ringleader, choosing targets and directing the others. He also redirected visitors to The Sun newspaper’s website to a fake story about News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch committing suicide.