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UK Court Convicts Lapsus$ Hacker for Breaching ISP BT and EE UPDATE

Thursday, Aug 24th, 2023 (10:54 am) - Score 4,528
Internet and UK Telecoms Security Picture

The Southwark Crown Court in London has today found an autistic Oxfordshire teenager, Arion Kurtaj (18), responsible for having hacked a number of major companies – including, among others, broadband ISP and mobile giant BT (EE)- while acting as a member of the wider Lapsus$ hacking group.

The jury concluded that Kurtaj, who due to his autism and a ruling by psychiatrists had been deemed unfit to stand trial (i.e. the court couldn’t find him “guilty” of committing the acts with criminal intent), was responsible for carrying out hacks against Nvidia, Uber, Revolut, Rockstar (Grant Theft Auto etc.) and telecoms giant BT, including EE.

NOTE: The relevant case numbers are T20227074 and T20220586.

The case revealed that, during 2021, Kurtaj had hacked and blackmailed broadband ISP BT and mobile operator EE, which is said to have also involved the theft of internal files and a ransom demand of $4m in order to prevent the deletion of data from their servers. In all, the court found Kurtaj had committed multiple offences, including 3 counts of blackmail, 2 counts of fraud and 6 charges under the Computer Misuse Act.

A second unnamed 17-year-old had also previously pleaded guilty to 1 count under the Computer Misuse Act and 1 count of fraud in relation to the BT hack. We have asked BT to comment and are awaiting their response.

UPDATE 11:21am

BT has declined to comment on the security breach, thus we don’t know how big it was or whether any customer details were exposed.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
16 Responses
  1. Avatar photo James says:

    Thought it was mentioned that 26,000custimers were affected and some of those actually received a text message from the group themselves saying their data had been taken etc.

    It feels like it’s been covered up by BT/EE. It’s the first I’ve heard of it and it happened in 2021.

    1. Avatar photo Daniel says:

      Same here. I’ve sent out a rather irritated email to BT group as a shareholder to see if they will respond. I would have expected to hear about it by now, like other organisations do.

    2. Avatar photo T says:

      @James – First you heard of it but thought you heard 26k customers got a text?

      The matter to focus on is the fact he didn’t get charged as he was deemed to be unfit. Yet capable and aware of hacking multiple larges companies and capable of demanding a ransom. Pathetic justice system.

    3. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Indeed. If he’d got away with it and laundered the proceeds into the bank, undoubtedly he’d have been considered fit to spend the money.

      I have multiple family members with a range of autistic spectrum disorders, they don’t go round committing crimes because of it. I work with statisticians and data analysts, amongst whom ASD is visibly more common than the general population, they don’t go round committing crimes. It really is about time the criminal justice system stopped accepting autism as a stay of of jail free card in all forms of technology crime.

    4. Avatar photo DaveisDead says:

      @anon

      Even if you do know all those autistic people (I seriously doubt you do by the way) you display a flagrant lack of understanding about the condition. Autism is a spectrum and often has multiple other disorders and issues associated with it. I’ve worked with autistic children for years and one thing I’ve learned is that every single one of them is different and autism affects every single one of them in different ways.

      For sure there are reneralised traits that regularly appear such as lack of eye contact and repetition (for those on the Asperges side). To suggest that because the people you’ve met don’t have the specific traits that medical experts have testified he has should be ignored is borderline fascist. It’s exactly the kind of drivel uneducated and ignorant people trott out about disabled people all the time and it’s time IT stopped.

  2. Avatar photo James says:

    @T

    Yeah it is. I don’t recall any media coverage or a statement from EE themselves saying this had happened. The first I heard of the issue was when i saw the article on the BBC site, mentioning this had affected BT/EE. I googled and seen a thread on the EE Community page where people had said they had received this text message. No other mention of it anywhere from around that time.

    in reality, 26,000 customers will be a relatively small percentage for BT/EE.

    Still feels like it was brushed under the carpet. Surely all customers should have been alerted to the fact this had happened?

  3. Avatar photo James says:

    Also of note:

    The extortionists demanded a £3.1 million ($4 million) ransom, which wasn’t paid. However, the teens did use some of the swiped data – specifically, details of their SIM cards – to steal about £100,000 ($130,000) from five people’s cryptocurrency wallets.

  4. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

    He should be offered employment with GCHQ who could use his skill set!!

    1. Avatar photo spurple says:

      And what would stop him from misusing the kind of access he would have as privilege or working for GCHQ?

  5. Avatar photo D&I says:

    The Southwark Crown Court in London has today found an autistic Oxfordshire teenager

    So? Why aren’t they just a teenager from Oxfordshire? What difference does autism make in this context?

    1. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

      Because t5he Court would have to give reasons why he isn’t being prosecuted which has to do with a Spectrum Disorder.

    2. Avatar photo D&I says:

      That’s explained later in the article as to why he was unfit for trial:
      who due to his autism and a ruling by psychiatrists had been deemed unfit to stand trial

      It doesn’t need to be in the opening ‘headlining’ sentence like it is, labelling the teen.

  6. Avatar photo CG says:

    I thought for a moment I had accidentally started reading the comments section of the Daily Mail. My bad.

  7. Avatar photo Anon says:

    Of course it’s a hacker kid. He’s going to walk his way into GCHQ and land a six figure job in no time.

    1. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      GCHQ really don’t pay that well for technical staff.

    2. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      Actually the pay for an intelligence analyst is pitiful.

      https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/intelligence-analyst

      Starting salaries for the three agencies – GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 – are in the region of £30,000 to £35,000, plus benefits.
      There are opportunities to progress to higher grades, with salaries reaching around £40,000 to £45,000 after five to ten years’ service.

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