UK hackers Christopher Weatherhead, 22, and Ashley Rhodes, 28, were recently given 18-month and seven-month prison sentences, respectively, for launching DDoS attacks on the Web sites of PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and other companies in 2010. PayPal last year said the attacks caused £3.5 million in damages.

"Co-defendant Peter Gibson, of Hartlepool, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years," BBC News reports. "Another defendant, Jake Birchall, 18, from Chester, will be sentenced on 1 February."

"Weatherhead was described during his trial as a high-ranking member of Anonymous who owned two servers, ran private chat rooms and acted as a press spokesman to the world's media, including the BBC and al-Jazeera," writes The Guardian's Josh Halliday. "The court heard that Weatherhead enjoyed such seniority that he held an election of Anonymous members to decide who or what would be the hackers' next target."


"Mark Ruffell, defending, said that although Weatherhead was responsible for his own actions, the attacks in question were carried out by any number of the 11,000 people logged into the Anonymous chat server, which was used to spread the word about the timings and targets of the DDoS attacks," writes The Register's Brid-Aine Parnell. "He also argued that Weatherhead's first and main motive was youthful idealism and a belief that copyright was wrong."

"The computers used by Weatherhead, Rhodes and Birchall to carry out the attacks will be taken away from them after the judge made a deprivation order," writes The Independent's Lauren Turner. "Weatherhead had asked for the shell of his computer to be kept but the judge refused, saying to remove only the hard drive and leave the plastic casing intact would be too much work."