Hacker sentenced to 18-month sentence for Anonymous PayPal, MasterCard attacks

A hacker associated with the Anonymous collective has been sentenced to 18 months in a British jail for his role in attacks on the websites of MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and several companies.

As reported by the BBC, 22-year-old Christopher Weatherhead received an 18-month sentence, while another hacker, 28-year-old Ashley Rhodes, will spend seven months behind bars.

The duo's convictions are reportedly the first in the UK for a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, the BBC said.

Also, co-defendant Peter Gibson received a suspended sentence, while Jake Birchall faces the judge on 1 February.

In early December, a London court convicted Weatherhead - who went by the names "Nerdo" and "NikonElite" online - of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers. He could have received up to 10 years in jail.

The attacks in question date back to late 2010, when "Operation Payback" targeted payment sites that had withdrawn support from Wikileaks. Weatherhead and other Anonymous members launched DDoS attacks against PayPal, MasterCard, Swiss bank PostFinance, Visa.com, and Amazon.

Ultimately, the attacks caused about $5.5 million (£3.5 million) in damages, the BBC said.

Weatherhead was first arrested in September 2011, as were other members of Anonymous. But the collective did not see the arrests as a deterrent, but rather as a call to arms. Shortly after Weatherhead's arrest, Anonymous dumped a 3GB file that contained emails from Texas police chiefs.