TL;DR: David Kelley, 22, of the United Kingdom was sentenced for his role in the telecommunications hack of TalkTalk. He pled guilty to nearly a dozen charges, including that of stealing personal data impacting 150,000 customers and blackmailing a Baroness for bitcoin. According to authorities, those were just a few of Kelley’s many computer-related crimes.
TalkTalk Hacker Gets Prison Time
British law enforcement stress Kelley’s exploits between late 2013 and through 2015 cost TalkTalk £77 million. In 2016, he pled guilty to 11 crimes, and was finally sentenced on 10 June 2019 to four years “in a young offenders’ institution,” according to local media. Though he is an adult now, he began his offenses as a teenager.
TalkTalk Telecom Group plc provides internet, telecommunications, mobile network services, and television to nearly 4 million customers in the UK, making it a veritable honeypot for valuable personal information. Kelley was part of a hacking group, Team Hans, who were able to breach TalkTalk and nab email addresses and bank information which sent the company scrambling to save face and patch security holes.
He evidently also attacked public sector networks — schools, colleges, emergency services, hospitals, and counsels alike. Each time, according to authorities, Kelley would essentially threaten to reveal sensitive personal data, and it’s not always clear exactly what his motives were other perhaps collecting credit card information. The lone successful blackmail came at the expense of Baroness Harding of Winscombe, CEO of TalkTalk, and other executives, for bitcoin, which yielded £4,400 (it appears that charge was dropped).
Prosecutors turned to a psychological profile of Kelley, describing him as disgruntled and ruthless due to not being allowed to take a computer course in school — that college would be one of his first victims. Kelley was “prolific, skilled and cynical cyber-criminal,” who was a “bully,” willing to “intimidate, and then ruin his chosen victims from a perceived position of anonymity and safety – behind the screen of a computer,” prosecutors stressed.
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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