Southwark Crown Court in London has heard that three members of the LulzSec hacking gang have chosen to plead guilty to charges that they launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against a series of organisations including the CIA and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency.
The LulzSec hacking gang, a splinter group from the Anonymous hacktivist movement, managed to gain enormous media coverage for their series of attacks during 2011.
Jake Davis (known by his internet handle of "Topiary") and 18-year-old Mustafa Al-Bassam ("Tflow") pleaded guilty to flooding the law enforcement agencies' websites with internet traffic, as well as those of Sony, News International and the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.
26-year-old fellow hacker Ryan Ackroyd (who posed as a teenage girl hacker called "Kayla") also entered a last minute guilty plea to one count of computer hacking. He will now not face trial in regards to another count of operating a DDoS attack, an offence which will lie on file.
Davis entered a previous guilty plea in June last year, alongside 21-year-old Ryan Cleary - who had previously pleaded guilty to the same and related charges.
Regular readers will remember that Cleary is the man who was described by The Sun newspaper upon his arrest as a "geek", "nerd" and "oddball".
It is speculated that that front page media report may have angered other members of LulzSec, and motivated the hacking group's attack the following month against The Sun.
The attack against The Sun newspaper saw phone numbers, email address and passwords of News International employees posted on the internet.
Meanwhile, website visitors were presented with a false news story claiming that News International founder Rupert Murdoch had died after ingesting a "large quantity of palladium", and stumbled into his "famous topiary garden".
20-year-old Jake Davis, who acted as LulzSec's spokesman under the pseudonym of "Topiary" and was arrested at his home in the remote Shetland Islands, was one of the most high profile members of LulzSec, writing press releases for the group and running the group's Twitter account.
Famously, just before his arrest Jake Davis posted a simple message on Topiary's Twitter account:
"You cannot arrest an idea"
The four men are awaiting sentencing.
The reign of LulzSec
Here's just a short summary of just some of the hacks, internet attacks and indeed arrests associated with the LulzSec gang during 2011:
- LulzSec suspect pleads not guilty to Sony Pictures website hack. If convicted, Cody Kretsinger, from Phoenix, Arizona, could face up to 15 years in prison.
- LulzSec hacking suspect 'Topiary' arrested in the Shetland Islands. A court was later told that alleged hacker Jake Davis had 750,000 passwords in his possession.
- LulzSec and Anonymous hacker suspects arrested by US, UK and Dutch authorities.
- Britain's leading tabloid, The Sun was hacked, and replaced with a bogus story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch. In addition, readers who had participated in the newspapers' competitions had their personal details exposed.
- FBI searches LulzSec suspect's home in Hamilton, Ohio.
- EA Games resets users' passwords following LulzSec hack.
- The end of LulzSec? Hacking group says it is disbanding, after 50 days of attacks.
- Ryan Cleary charged with DDoS attacks - SOCA (Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency) and other websites in the firing line.
- SOCA website scalp claimed by LulzSec in apparent DDoS attack.
- CIA website brought down by DDoS attack, LulzSec hackers claim responsibility.
- EVE Online and other gaming websites hit by LulzSec DDoS attack.
- LulzSec attacks US Senate and Bethesda Softworks.
- 26,000 sex website passwords exposed by LulzSec.
- Hackers steal Fox TV passwords, deface Twitter and LinkedIn pages.