Sentencing proceedings have begun for four UK-based members of the LulzSec hacking group.
On Wednesday, the men appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London for their sentencing hearing, which is expected to conclude Thursday.
Ryan Ackroyd, Ryan Cleary, Jake Davis and Mustafa Al-Bassam have pleaded guilty to hacking crimes against high-profile companies and government agencies in the United States and UK, including the CIA and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the UK. The attacks occurred between February and September 2011.
During the Wednesday hearing, prosecuting attorney Sandip Patel said the defendants saw themselves as “modern-day pirates,” according to the BBC.
“This is not about young immature men messing about,” Patel said. “They are at the cutting edge of a contemporary and emerging species of criminal offender known as a cybercriminal.”
In April, Ackroyd, 26, admitted to one count of carrying out an unauthorized act to impair the operation of a computer after he helped infiltrate companies that included Sony, Nintendo, 20th Century Fox and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Prosecutors have said that Ackroyd posed as a 16-year-old girl named “Kayla” online when carrying out online exploits.
Davis, 20, and Mustafa Al-Bassam, 18, also pleaded guilty at the time to launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) against the CIA and SOCA. Davis reportedly faces extradition to the United States.
Cleary, 21, admitted last June to targeting both agencies with DDoS attacks, but his defense team reportedly argued on Wednesday that his motivations were strictly for the "lulz," or laughs, rather than to financially profit from his activities.
His lawyers also said he was not a core member of LulzSec and that he did not actually infiltrate organizations. Instead, he provided a botnet of infected computer to hackers, allowing them to down websites using DDoS attacks.