The long arm of the law stretched right across the Atlantic this week when a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Brit Ryan Cleary on charges relating to computer attacks carried out last year by hacking collective LulzSec.
If the 20-year-old is found guilty of the charges — comprising one count of conspiracy and two counts of impairing computers — he could face up to 25 years behind bars. However, the alleged hacker is currently inside a UK prison facing similar charges there.
Commenting on Tuesday’s indictment, FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said, “Cleary is a skilled hacker. He controlled his own botnet, employed sophisticated methods and his broad geographic scope affected a large number of businesses and individuals.”
Those businesses included Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment and the Public Broadcasting Service.
The attacks, carried out between April and June last year, made international headlines as global companies began to wonder if they would be next to suffer at the hands of LulzSec, an off-shoot of the larger Anonymous hacking group.
In September 2011, the FBI arrested LulzSec member Cody Kretsinger, a 24-year-old Phoenix citizen. He pleaded guilty to participating in an attack on Sony Pictures’ website, stealing personal information from registered users of the site and, according to Sony, causing over $500,000 of damage in the process.
And in March of this year, there was a wave of arrests of alleged hackers after LulzSec’s leader, Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, turned informant following his capture in 2011.
With Cleary now facing charges in two countries, it’s not certain what the next step will be for the accused hacker.