A teenage hacker belonging to the notorious Lapsus$ group has been accused of launching cyberattacks against tech giants such as Uber and fintech company Revolut, as well as the developers of the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto. These allegations were presented to a London court last week.
This article is based on the reportage by Reuters correspondents Sam Tobin and Nick Macfie.
A Spree of Cyberattacks
The prosecutors have identified 18-year-old Arion Kurtaj as the primary attacker, alleging he successfully accessed the information of around 5,000 Revolut customers and inflicted almost $3 million worth of damage on Uber in September 2022. In a twist of events, Kurtaj allegedly turned his cyberweapon towards Rockstar Games, the developers of Grand Theft Auto. Prosecutors say he threatened to leak the source code for an upcoming sequel to the game in a Slack message delivered to all Rockstar employees.
A Cyber Extortion Racket
Kurtaj, along with an unnamed 17-year-old, is also facing allegations of blackmailing UK’s largest broadband provider, BT Group, and mobile operator EE between July and November 2021. The duo reportedly demanded a ransom of $4 million.
Prosecutors believe that these two individuals were “key players” in the Lapsus$ group, a claim supported by another incident in February 2022. The group allegedly targeted chip manufacturer Nvidia Corp, threatening to release its data unless paid.
The Attack on City of London Police
Adding another layer to this extensive cybercrime narrative, prosecutor Kevin Barry told jurors that the 17-year-old defendant had breached the City of London Police’s cloud storage just weeks after his arrest in connection to the BT and EE attacks.
Kurtaj, after these series of events, purportedly set off on his own string of cyberattacks, striking Revolut and Uber before turning his sights onto Rockstar Games.
The Court Proceedings
Given his condition as assessed by psychiatrists, Kurtaj is not fit to stand trial. Instead, the jury will decide whether he committed the alleged actions rather than passing a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
Kurtaj faces 12 charges, including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and six charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
The 17-year-old co-defendant denies the charges of two counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and three charges under the Computer Misuse Act related to the hacking of BT and Nvidia. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two offences under the Computer Misuse Act and one count of fraud.