Ryan Cleary, the 20 year-old Essex, England hacker associated with the hacker collective LulzSec, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States on Tuesday.
According to an FBI press release, the grand jury indicted Cleary with one count of conspiracy and two counts of the unauthorized impairment of protected computers. The FBI charges Cleary with conspiring with LulzSec on a series of denial of service attacks on news organizations and businesses. Cleary is alleged to have operated a botnet used to launch the attacks, and then rented it to individuals interesting in launching DDoS attacks.
The indictment doesn’t name Cleary’s victims, but reports indicate that it relates to Cleary’s alleged involvement in various high-profile hacks from last year, including the defacement of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) web page in retaliation for a profile on PBS’s Frontline program on Wikileaks and Julian Assange. A separate attack on Fox Entertainment spilled the personal information of some 250,000 reality television hopefuls at Fox’s talent show the X-Factor. Cleary was also allegedly involved in the widely-publicized intrusions into Sony’s networks one year ago. He could face as many as 25 years in the U.S. if found guilty.
Cleary remains in custody in the UK where he was arrested in June of last year for his alleged involvement in attacks against the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) as well as UK’s British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
LulzSec was a hacker group that spun off of the group Anonymous. Last June, LulzSec called it quits. The group’s members managed to evade the spotlight, but a string of arrests earlier this year has thinned the group’s ranks. Among those arrested is Hector Xavier Monsegur (aka ‘Sabu’), who agreed to cooperate with federal authorities as part of a plea agreement after he was found guilty in August 2011.