Merseyside man jailed for cyber-attacks on public websites

13/11/2015

A 52 year old Merseyside man who admitted launching up to 21 cyber-attacks on several high profile websites has been sentenced to 34 weeks in prison.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Ian Sullivan, from Farmer Place in Bootle, launched the attacks from his own computer over a number of days in June and July 2013.

The websites targeted included the Metropolitan and Merseyside Police Forces, CafCass (Children & Family Court Advisory & Support Service) Wirral Council, British Airways, the Conservative Party and several foreign sites.

The attacks were what are known as DDoS (denial of service) attacks. They don't permanently damage the sites; they just overload them for a period of time and make it impossible for other people to access them.

Some of the sites were down for a number of hours, costing money and causing  considerable inconvenience to users.

Sullivan deliberately sourced and paid for a programme on the internet which he then used to launch the DDoS attacks. He alerted the websites with a tweet from Twitter account "anonian01".

The tweets often included the words, "This is just the start! Tango down. Its not just you."

Sullivan was eventually tracked down by officers from the National Crime Agency, his home was searched and the hard drive of his computer was confiscated.

Sentencing, Judge Graham Morrow QC said he thought that Sullivan launched the attacks in anger at a decision made about him by Social Services.

Ben Southam, District Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Services Complex Casework Unit, said: "This has been a complex case and I would like to thank the National Crime Agency for their help in bringing this to a successful conclusion.

"Sullivan launched a series of malicious attacks on important websites that caused considerable distress and inconvenience to often vulnerable clients.

"He was motivated by anger and no doubt thought that he was too clever to be caught. He was wrong.

"Many people think they can engage in this sort of cybercrime from their own homes and avoid detection. We built a strong case against Sullivan and he pleaded guilty and he has now been jailed.

"We hope this case sends out a strong message to others who think of becoming involved in this type of offending."