A 22-year-old British student, who is believed to be a member of a global hacktivist group, Anonymous, stands trial over a series of attacks directed at PayPal. The company revealed it suffered £3.5 million of loss from those attacks.
Christopher Weatherhead was a student at Northampton University. He allegedly took part in a campaign that would serve as Anonymous’ revenge for PayPal for refusing to process Wikileaks payments. Wau Holland Foundation is an organization involved in raising funds for Wikileaks. When PayPal refused to processed payments, both incoming and outgoing, the attacks happened and Anonymous was quick to acknowledge it was their campaign.
Prosecutor Sandip Patel said the cyber-attacks have caused so much disruption to the services offered by the payment processor. While the hackers did not attack the site for financial loot, PayPal had to defend its property and invested in various software that would help deflect attacks as well as safeguard its databases and customer’s information knowing it stores millions, if not billions, of credit card numbers with corresponding names and addresses in its databases.
Anonymous, with the participation of Weatherhead, used distributed denial of service, DDoS, to send millions of requests to servers all at once. It would result to the crippling of the website disallowing users to login, or conduct online transactions simply because the website is unusable during such time. Reports suggested that some users were somehow redirected to a different page with the following message: “You’ve tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung.”
Weatherhead, who goes by the name of “Nerdo” on an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel posted messages that encouraged attack on PayPal.
“It is the prosecution case that Christopher Weatherhead, the defendant, is a cyber-attacker and that he, and others like him, waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks that paralysed a series of targeted computer systems belonging to companies to which they took issue with, for whatever reason, and those attacks caused unprecedented harm,” Mr Patel said.
For now, no one knows if a conviction against Weatherhead could be achieved but majority of the evidences gathered by the authorities and the prosecution point to Weatherhead’s involvement with Anonymous as well as their practices.