An ex-journalism student could face 15 years imprisonment if she is found guilty of colluding with other Anonymous members to attack Paypal.
The 20-year-old, who studied at the university of Nevada in Las Vegas, was one of those arrested last week in an operation carried out by the FBI across the US. She could also face a fine of up to $500,000 if she is convicted.
Mercedes Renee Haefer is accused of being a part of the DDoS attack called ‘Operation Payback’ on Paypal last year. The attack was carried out in retaliation for the suspension of Wikileaks account last year.
Paypal provided IP addresses to the FBI last year to aid their efforts to hunt down the perpetrators of the attacks.
The indictment relating to the case stated that the attack last year rendered Paypal inaccessible as the amount of traffic sent to the site caused it to crash and go offline.
Haefer is one of 14 people arrested last week and is charged with conspiracy to “commit intentional damage to a protected computer.”
The indictment went on to say that she had “caused loss to 1 or more person’s during a one-year period affecting protected computers aggregating at least $5,000 in value.”
The Director of Journalism at Nevada university said that Ms Haefer enrolled on the course but dropped out quickly.
“This student was at the doorway of a journalism program but chose not to pursue,” he said. “Had she done so, she would have been exposed to classes that would have enhanced her decision making abilities.”
Anonymous said yesterday that they had 8GB of data in their possession stolen from the network Italian CNAIPIC which oversees the country’s critical IT infrastructure.
The group said they had received the files from a “source” and it is thought the attack is in retaliation for the arrests of the group’s Italian members last week.
The documents are said to contain information on government and corporate offices and many of them have already been published on the Pastebin website.
Anonymous promised retribution for any convictions on their Twitter feed and warned that the news would not deter them from further attacks.