A computer hacker who brought down the Labour general election candidate’s website and tapped into a school network has been given a suspended sentence.
Bradley Kai Hayden Niblock, 22, was caught after the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit followed a pattern of online offending last year.
Niblock, of Hawcoat Lane, Barrow, admitted two counts of computer misuse and one count of malicious communications and was sentenced today (June 28) at Preston Crown Court.
The judge gave Niblock an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, along with 200 hours of unpaid work and a three-year Criminal Behaviour Order.
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Niblock carried out what is known as a denial of service attack on the website for the official Labour campaign for Barrow at the December 2019 General Election.
It was orchestrated via Twitter messages sent by Niblock to arrange and coordinate the offence with others capable of conducting the attack.
On December 3 the attack started and the campaign website became unavailable and appeared offline.
Niblock operated a Twitter profile under the guise of a hacking group, which amassed about 75,000 followers up to his arrest in March last year.
He used this platform to create the impression of having the ability to carry out online cyber-attacks.
This attracted other would-be hackers to reach out to him through this account.
To prove their abilities, they were asked to perform certain attacks by Niblock. They were asked to target the campaign website during the campaigning period.
But following investigations by the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, Niblock was arrested in March 2020.
Niblock was found with an iPhone, which was seized. It was found to be logged into the official Twitter account of Furness Academy, for which it was not authorised to be logged onto.
Niblock was also linked to a Snapchat account used to contact a woman and state those behind the account were going to “ruin her life”.
Detective Inspector, Ian Harwood, head of the constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, said: “Our specialist officers work hard behind-the-scenes all year round to deter offending, catch criminals and safeguard victims.
“This is a dedicated unit staffed to deal with exactly these type of offences.
“This offence caused disruption to a parliamentary campaign during an election period.
“But using the investigative techniques at our disposal, we were able to identify Niblock and produce the evidence necessary for a prosecution.
“This shows how hacking offences such as this can cause serious problems for organisations and people – and we won’t tolerate those who seek to take part in this criminality.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Cumbria Constabulary.
“Technology is advancing at such a quick rate and tech-savvy criminals can target anyone, anywhere in the world from the comfort of their own home – this can make it incredibly difficult to catch and prosecute these criminals.
“This is why I funded and launched the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit in Cumbria – so that any local criminals targeting the public online can be caught and brought to justice.
“The team have done a great job and I know that they will continue to do so.
“The message is clear: cyber-crimes will not be tolerated in Cumbria – if you commit online crime you will be caught and charged.”
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