LulzSec member charged with hacking attacks on 'X-Factor,' PBS
A federal grand jury has indicted an English citizen -- and member of the global hacking group LulzSec -- on multiple counts of computer-related crimes for alleged computer attacks targeting PBS, Sony Pictures and Fox, including an effort to get confidential information on contestants auditioning for "The X-Factor," federal authorities have announced.
The indictment, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charges Ryan Cleary, 20, with one count of conspiracy and two counts of the unauthorized impairment of protected computers.
If convicted of the charges in the United States, Cleary faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. He is now in custody in England for hacking activity while awaiting prosecution.
Federal authorities allege that between April 2011 through June 2011, Cleary conspired with LulzSec members to intentionally cause damage to the computer systems of Fox Entertainment Group in Los Angeles and stole confidential information including data relating to people auditioning for "The X-Factor."
The indictment also alleges Clearly hacked into and defaced the PBS NewsHour website and created a separate website where he and others published confidential information stolen from entertainment company systems.
In one of those cases, federal authorities allege that Cleary stole information from individuals who had registered on a site belonging to Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Federal officials said LulzSec is known for its affiliation with the international group of hackers known as Anonymous. According to the indictment, Anonymous is a collective of computer hackers and other individuals throughout the world who conduct cyber attacks against individuals and entities they perceive to be hostile to its interests.
This investigation was conducted by the Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles, which includes FBI and U.S. Secret Service agents, the U.S. attorney’s office as well as the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the California Highway Patrol.
-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)