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September 18, 2021

Five Anonymous members arrested in US high-profile cyberattacks

New York –  Top members of the computer hacker group “Anonymous” and its offshoots were arrested and charged Tuesday after a wide-ranging investigation used the help of a group leader who was working as a secret government informant, CNN informs. Five of the suspects, considered by investigators among the “most sophisticated hackers in the world,” were arrested in the United States and Europe and charged in a Manhattan federal court over their alleged role in high-profile cyberattacks against government agencies and large companies, according to an indictment. A sixth man, Hector Xavier Monsegur, a notorious hacker known as “Sabu,” pleaded guilty in August to computer hacking and other crimes. As part of his plea deal, Monsegur cooperated with government investigators and helped build a case against the five other defendants, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. Ryan Ackroyd, 23; Jake Davis, 29; Darren Martyn, 25; and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, 19, have been charged with conspiracy regarding attacks against Fox Broadcasting Co., Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS. O’Cearrbhail is also accused of hacking into the personal e-mail account of an Irish national police officer and eavesdropping on a conference call between Irish police, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies about ongoing investigations into Anonymous and other hacker groups. The suspect allegedly recorded the call and disseminated the recording to other hackers. O’Cearrbhail and Martyn are from Ireland, and Hammond is from Chicago, the indictment said. Ackroyd and Davis are from Britain. Monsegur and others have claimed responsibility for cyberstrikes between December 2010 and June 2011 that included denial of service attacks against the websites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. Dubbed “Operation Payback,” authorities say the credit card and PayPal attacks were prompted by the firms’ refusals to process donations to WikiLeaks, an organization that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information. The group’s website has released thousands of classified diplomatic cables as well as confidential – and, at times, controversial – messages about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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