Security Experts:

British Student Convicted Over Anonymous PayPal Hacking

LONDON - A British student was on Thursday convicted for his role in a series of cyber-attacks by the hacking group Anonymous that cost the US online payments giant PayPal millions of dollars.

Christopher Weatherhead, 22, was found guilty of participating in attacks by Anonymous on PayPal, MasterCard and other companies that refused to process payments to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors said the assault on PayPal had cost the company £3.5 million ($5.6 million, 4.3 million euros) in loss of trading as well as software and hardware updates to fend off similar attacks.

Weatherhead, who used the name Nerdo on the Internet, was described as a leading player in the "distributed denial of service" attacks. The jury at London's Southwark Crown Court convicted him on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977. Weatherhead, who will be sentenced at a later date, could face up to 10 years in prison.

The DDoS attacks paralyzed computer systems by overloading them with online requests.

Targeted websites were directed to a page reading: "You've tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung."

In a campaign codenamed "Operation Payback", Anonymous also targeted companies in the music industry and opponents of music piracy including the Ministry of Sound nightclub and record label, the jury heard.

Three other men have already pleaded guilty to the charge.

Anonymous, who style themselves as "hacktivists", said last month that they had downed dozens of Israeli government websites in protest over the Jewish state's air assault on Gaza, which ended with a wary truce on Wednesday.

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