Last spring some of the most entertaining and subversive hacks that arrived in the wake of Julian Assange’s arrest came from LulzSec, an Anonymous splinter collective. For a stretch in 2011 LulzSec tweeted a high frequency of one-liner in which they variously taunted authorities, victims and almost anyone else. The carnivalesque atmosphere began to unravel when LulzSec’s self-appointed leader Sabu became a stool pigeon, providing US feds with all the intel they needed to bring the hacking collective down.
Roughly a year since LulzSec’s quick retreat, two of its youngest members, Jake Davis (Topiary) and Ryan Cleary, are pleading guilty to hacking a number of sites and organizations in the UK and US. Among the sites hit with DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service) were Sony, the CIA’s website, News International, Nintendo, Arizona State Police, 20th Century Fox and Westboro Baptist Church.
Davis and Cleary appeared in a Southwark Crown Court, according to The Telegraph, and plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to launch an unauthorised act or acts with the “intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, the operation of a computer or computers.” The pair pleaded not guilty to “encouraging or assisting an offense, contrary to section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007, and encouraging or assisting offences, contrary to section 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.”
LulzSec’s reasons ran the gamut from criticism of a company or government’s stance on online piracy to the anti-immigration polices of Arizona, for instance. With the Westboro Baptist Church incident, Topiary even took some time to call into the David Pakman show to debate church member Shirley Phelps-Roper and then announce that they were currently hacking the church website. (Watch the video below.)
It’s important to remember that Davis and Cleary (who essentially ran an IRC channel for LulzSec) were not in it for profit but as a digital form of protest. Their preferred tool, the DDoS attack, involves overloading a site’s servers with so many clicks that it shuts down. Think of it as a digital strike or sit-in to call attention to a company, organization or political office’s misdeeds.
As the saying goes, if you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the fiddler, and this is what Davis and Cleary will do. One thing is certain, though: the world is a little more boring without all the Lulz.