Three of accused Anonymous hacker Christopher Weatherhead's alleged co-conspirators have already plead guilty.
Christopher Weatherhead, a student at Northampton University and alleged "leader" of the Anonymous attack on PayPal, is standing trial for his role in the alleged conspiracy. According to the prosecution, Weatherhead's attack cost PayPal £3.5 million ($5.5 million). His three co-defendants have already pled guilty to the charge of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers, and will be sentenced later.
The attacks, Operation Payback, were in response to PayPal's refusal to process payments for Julian Assange's Wikileaks website. Operation Payback took place between August 2010 and January 2011, and consisted of distributed denial of service assaults that eventually directed users to a page displaying the message "You've tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung."
"Christopher Weatherhead, the defendant, is a cyber-attacker," said prosecutor Sandip Patel, "and ... he and others like him waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks that paralysed a series of targeted computer systems belonging to companies, to which they took issue with for whatever reason, that caused unprecedented harm."
The harm includes three weeks of clean-up by 100 PayPal staff after the attacks, and substantial investment in hardware and software to prevent further attacks, all of which adds up to the £3.5 million in damage Weatherhead is accused of causing.