Hacker ‘an­gry at exam fail­ure’

Stu­dent ‘turned down by col­lege’

Llanelli Star - - FRONT PAGE - Emily Pen­nink jour­[email protected]­line.co.uk

A “RUTH­LESS” cy­ber crim­i­nal took part in a mas­sive Talk­Talk hack at­tack and black­mailed for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Dido Hard­ing af­ter he was turned down for a col­lege com­puter course, a court has heard.

Dis­grun­tled stu­dent Daniel Kel­ley, from Llanelli, turned to “black hat” hack­ing when he failed to get the nec­es­sary GCSE grades.

He went on to tar­get com­pa­nies large and small, as far afield as Canada and Aus­tralia, and at­tempted to hold bosses to ran­som.

The 22-year-old ap­peared at the Old Bai­ley to be sen­tenced af­ter plead­ing guilty to 11 hack­ing-re­lated of­fences.

Pros­e­cu­tor Peter Ratliff de­scribed Kel­ley as a “pro­lific, skilled and cyn­i­cal cy­ber-crim­i­nal” who was will­ing to “bully, in­tim­i­date, and then ruin his cho­sen vic­tims from a per­ceived po­si­tion of anonymity and safety – be­hind the screen of a com­puter”.

Be­tween Septem­ber 2013 and Novem­ber 2015, he en­gaged in a wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties from the de­lib­er­ate, dam­ag­ing dis­rup­tion of com­puter net­works to black­mail­ing in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies whose data had been stolen by hack­ing.

While he largely re­mained anony­mous on­line, his crimes were re­vealed in snip­pets re­trieved from chat logs, in­ter­est in Bit­coin ac­counts, and down­loaded ma­te­rial, the court heard.

The court heard that Kel­ley was just 16 when he hacked into Co­leg Sir Gar fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion col­lege in Car­marthen­shire out of “spite or re­venge”.

Mr Ratliff said Kel­ley had been “ut­terly ruth­less”.

He said: “Where con­fi­den­tial and sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion had been stolen in the hack – typ­i­cally the per­sonal and credit card de­tails of the com­pany’s clients – the de­fen­dant would threaten the com­pany with the pub­lic re­lease of the ma­te­rial, know­ing and ex­ploit­ing the fact that the re­lease would risk the ruin of the com­pany con­cerned.”

Kel­ley hacked into Talk­Talk and black­mailed Baroness Hard­ing of Win­scombe and five other ex­ec­u­tives for Bit­coin, the court heard.

His ac­tiv­i­ties con­trib­uted to Talk­Talk losses of tens of mil­lions of pounds, while smaller firms he tar­geted were forced to spend hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds to mit­i­gate the dam­age.

The de­fen­dant, who has Asperger’s syn­drome and de­pres­sion, only re­ceived £4,400 worth of Bit­coins from his black­mail at­tempts, hav­ing made de­mands for more than £115,000.

In De­cem­ber 2016, Kel­ley pleaded guilty to 11 charges, in­clud­ing hack­ing with in­tent, six counts of black­mail, en­cour­ag­ing hack­ing, of­fer­ing to sup­ply data in con­nec­tion with fraud, and pos­ses­sion of ar­ti­cles for fraud.

Sen­tenc­ing in the case was ex­pected yes­ter­day as the Star went to press.

Pic­ture: Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice

Teenage hacker Daniel Kel­ley.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.