The convicted LulzSec hackers are part of a new youth culture rebelling against society says a leading cyber security expert…
Likening Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis, Ryan Cleary and Mustafa al Bassam to 1950s rock n’ roll fans or the punk rockers of the 1970s, Professor Blyth of the University of South Wales told FI: “They just want to kick back against authority. From their perspective they’ve done nothing wrong.
“What they’ve done is effectively nothing that was that serious and in fact they’ve brought to people’s attention how poor security was in certain areas and made them better.”
Blyth admits that the American authorities would take a different attitude from the English court, which handed down sentences ranging from 200 hours of community service to two and a half years in jail. He believes that the offences they committed – which included hacking into the websites of the FBI and the CIA – would result in twenty years in a federal penitentiary in the USA. Andy Blyth
Yet he insists that they are in some senses of the word political prisoners, exploring the possibilities for protest in cyberspace. The Professor’s own students at the University of South Wales study how to become ethical hackers. He compares online protests with the 2011 mass student demonstrations outside the Houses of Commons at Westminster, campaigning against rising tuition fees.
“‘The student protest was just like a Ddos attack. They closed down the roads around Parliament and caused disruption“.
Ddos stands for ‘distributed denial of service’ and is a crude form of hacking, using a botnet or network of computers that the hacker has entered remotely by force and enslaved. The botnet bombards the targeted website with millions of demands, causing it to crash or freeze.
However the prosecuting barrister who brought the court case against the LulzSec Four, Sandip Patel, says that Anonymous and its LulzSec offshoot do not have a consistent political agenda and characterises them as more like rebels without a cause.
“It’s their age. They’re rebellious. They will grow up. Take Glenn Mangham, the Facebook hacker. He’s applying for jobs with the sort of companies that – well, a few years ago he might have thought of infiltrating their computers.”
Patel points out that there is a real shortage of cyber security skills in the UK – the British government estimates that four to five thousand additional trained experts are urgently needed.
Having worked on the Facebook, Anonymous Payback LulzSec and DarkMarket court cases, Mr Patel is familiar with the type of person who gets involved.
“There are some very clever boys and young men out there and there’s no reason why – if they put this behind them – they shouldn’t work for major companies or Government – even law enforcement, if they’ll have them!”