“Cruel and calculating” cyber criminal, Daniel Kelley, has been sentenced to four years in a young offenders’ institute.
Kelley took part in a massive attack perpetrated by multiple hackers on telecoms firm TalkTalk, and then blackmailed former chief executive Dido Harding.
Kelley, who suffers from Asperger syndrome and depression, became a black hat hacker after failing to achieve the necessary GCSE grades to secure a place on a computer course. Angered Kelley retaliated “out of spite” by hacking the college, he then began targeting organisations abroad including TalkTalk, which has four million customers.
Judge Mark Dennis, who passed sentence on Kelley at the Old Bailey, said Kelley hacked computers “for his own personal gratification” with no regard to the damage he caused.
- Cybercriminals Using ‘Invisible Net’ to Launch Attacks
- Napier University to host cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier
- UK Public Opposed to Exploitation of NHS Data by International Tech Companies
In addition to cyber-attacks, Kelley also blackmailed five other executives and Baroness Harding of Winscombe for Bitcoin. If the targeted individual refused to pay, Kelley would then offer up the victim’s details on the dark web.
Although he demanded over £115,000 of cryptocurrency, he only received £4,400. As a result of his actions, the victims suffered “stress and anxiety” and harm to their businesses, with the total cost to TalkTalk from the attack estimated at £77 million.
As well as his own activities, he also worked with a hacking collective, Team Hans. Upon his arrest, it was discovered he was in possession of computer files containing thousands of credit card details.
As a result of the cyber attacks, students and staff at his college, Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire, suffered wide-spread disruption. His actions also impacted other schools, councils, hospital and emergency services.
Radiologists at Hywel Dda health board in West Wales lost access to diagnostic image services with communication between hospital sites disrupted.
Prosecutor Peter Ratliff has described Kelley as a “prolific, skilled and cynical cyber-criminal” willing to “bully, intimidate, and then ruin his chosen victims from a perceived position of anonymity and safety – behind the screen of a computer”.
Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, Kelley boasted about his exploits on Skype saying that he was able to launch DDoS attacks and was”involved with black hat activities”. Commenting on his actions, he wrote in an online forum: “Oh God, this is so illegal.”
After his arrest and subsequent bail, he continued engaging in cyber-crime for a more “mercenary purpose”. Ratliff described his behaviour as “utterly ruthless”.