A court has heard how a Solihull teenager was part of a team of hackers who caused government websites in the UK and USA to crash through cyber attacks.
Working from the family home, Charlton Floate not only hacked into government sites, but also managed to take control of other people’s computers and “bragged” about the group’s success on the internet.
Floate, 19, of Starbold Crescent in Solihull, has admitted three charges under the Computer Misuse Act and three of possessing prohibited images.
Kevin Barry, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said that in November 2012, Floate had carried out two test runs when he hacked into the computers of two men in the US.
Mr Barry said that, in January 2013, Floate and others had targeted the “heavily used” Home Office website which provides information about various subjects, including passports and immigration.
He said that, by infecting other computers with Malware, the team were able to “bombard” the site with a large quantity of digital traffic causing it to crash.
The same method was used to temporarily bring down a site used by the FBI which allows people to report crime.
Floate publicly celebrated the attacks on an internet forum frequently used by hackers and also on Twitter, when he said the FBI site had been “down” for nearly five hours.
Police were able to link him to what had been going on when he used his IP address to check how effective the attacks had been.
Mr Barry said officers had recovered the computer used by the defendant from his mother’s address in Solihull and also his mobile phone.
He said there was also evidence that Floate had tried to recruit another person into the scheme with discussions about possible weaknesses in certain websites and potential future targets, including the CIA and The White House.
Mr Barry alleged Floate was “at the heart of the conspiracy” and was the central player.
However, the defendant has denied this, claiming he was only peripheral to what was going on and had only acted as a public relations officer for the group.
The issue will be decided by Mr Recorder Steel QC.