The sprawling cyber war that has been waged across servers and courtrooms around the world for the past few years saw a few victories on both sides this week, including successful prosecutions of LulzSec Anonymous hackers in the UK and the release of Hana “Phara” Beshara, the NinjaVideo founder who spent the past year in prison and still owes $260,000 to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Tuesday morning, in a UK court, Anonymous Lulzsec hackers Ryan "kayla" Ackroyd and Jake "topiary" Davis entered guilty pleas to various charges surrounding a series of attacks that the two participated in back in 2011 that resulted in the failure of websites and services run by Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, PBS and more.
The two are half of a group that could be headed to British prisons for several years. The charges they face for computer hacking, or conspiracy to do so, carry maximum penalties of 10 years.
Lulzsec, the active hacking arm of the Internet’s army of immature chaos known as Anonymous, carried out several attacks for numerous reasons –– like self defense in a raid on cybersecurity firm HBGary, which was investigating them –– but mostly they broke into servers to cause damage and steal information that others could use to wreak additional havoc for their own entertainment.
“This is the lulz lizard era, where we do things just because we find it entertaining,” Lulzsec said in a press release after the attacks that was quoted on Ars Technica. “Watching someone's Facebook picture turn into a penis and seeing their sister's shocked response is priceless. Receiving angry emails from the man you just sent 10 dildos to because he can't secure his Amazon password is priceless. You find it funny to watch havoc unfold, and we find it funny to cause it. We release personal data so that equally evil people can entertain us with what they do with it.”
Now they must pay the price for that fun.
Phara just finished the prison portion of her punishment, moving into a halfway house in Newark, N.J., where she’ll live until she goes on house arrest until September, and then commence two years of additional supervision.
She was the highest profile of several arrests within the organization behind NinjaVideo, which was a website that distributed pirated TV shows and movies and was shutdown in a U.S. federal government operation in 2011 that seized several major websites.