In a shocking case of cyber crime, a teenage member of the notorious hacking group Lapsus$, identified as Arion Kurtaj, stands accused of orchestrating a series of high-profile attacks on prominent companies, including Uber and fintech firm Revolut.
Prosecutors have revealed that the 18-year-old hacker also engaged in blackmail, targeting the developers of the immensely popular videogame franchise, Grand Theft Auto.
These disturbing incidents have been presented before a court in London, shedding light on the gravity of cyber threats in today’s digital world.
Hacking Uber and Revolut
The allegations against Kurtaj involve his hacking activities that took place in September 2022. During this period, he reportedly gained unauthorized access to the systems of Revolut, compromising the personal information of approximately 5,000 customers.
The financial damage caused by his actions was estimated to be around $3 million. Additionally, Kurtaj is said to have targeted ride-hailing giant Uber, causing significant harm to their operations.
The motive behind these attacks remains unclear, but the impact on both companies was substantial.
Blackmailing Rockstar Games
Prosecutors have further accused Kurtaj, alongside a 17-year-old co-conspirator, whose identity cannot be disclosed due to legal reasons, of engaging in blackmail against prominent organizations.
Their targets included BT Group, the largest broadband provider in Britain, and mobile operator EE. The two hackers allegedly demanded a ransom of $4 million from these companies between July and November 2021.
However, their most audacious move came when they targeted Rockstar Games, the developer behind the immensely successful Grand Theft Auto franchise.
In a chilling message sent via the Slack communication platform to all Rockstar staff, they threatened to release the source code of the upcoming sequel, causing significant distress within the gaming community.
Hacking Chip Maker Nvidia Corp
Another major incident attributed to Kurtaj and his accomplice involved the hacking of Nvidia Corp, a prominent chip maker, in February 2022.
The duo allegedly infiltrated the company’s systems and demanded a payment in exchange for not publishing its valuable data.
These actions showcased their audacity and their intent to exploit vulnerable systems for personal gain.
Revenge Against City of London Police
The prosecution revealed that the 17-year-old hacker retaliated against the City of London Police, the force that had previously arrested him in connection with the attacks on BT and EE.
Just weeks after his arrest, he reportedly breached the police force’s cloud storage, demonstrating his ability to bypass security measures and evade detection.
This act served as a clear reminder of the ever-present threat posed by cyber criminals.
Legal Proceedings and Charges
Arion Kurtaj’s mental state has been assessed by psychiatrists, who have deemed him unfit to stand trial. Consequently, the jury will be tasked with determining whether he committed the alleged acts rather than delivering a traditional guilty or not guilty verdict. Kurtaj faces multiple charges, including three counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and six charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
The 17-year-old co-defendant is standing trial on two counts of blackmail, two counts of fraud, and three charges under the Computer Misuse Act, directly related to the hacking incidents involving BT and Nvidia. He denies these charges, but has previously pleaded guilty to two offenses under the Computer Misuse Act and one count of fraud.
impact on Cybersecurity and cyber crimes
The impact of the alleged cyber crime spree orchestrated by Arion Kurtaj and his co-conspirator is significant and far-reaching.
The attacks on major companies such as Uber and Revolut, coupled with the blackmailing of Rockstar Games, have not only resulted in substantial financial losses but have also eroded public trust in the security of digital platforms and systems.
These incidents highlight the pressing need for enhanced cybersecurity measures and proactive efforts to combat cyber threats.
The case serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of cyber crime and the urgent requirement to safeguard individuals, businesses, and the broader digital ecosystem from such malicious activities.
The alleged cyber crime spree carried out by Arion Kurtaj and his co-conspirator has left a lasting impact on multiple fronts.
The targeted companies, including Uber and Revolut, have suffered significant financial losses, while their customers’ personal information has been compromised, undermining trust in their services.
Moreover, the blackmailing of Rockstar Games has raised concerns within the gaming industry, heightening anxieties about the security of intellectual property and the potential disruption of highly anticipated releases.
These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect individuals, businesses, and the overall digital infrastructure from the ever-present threat of cyber attacks.
The case of Arion Kurtaj and his co-conspirator has shed light on the severity of cyber crime in today’s technologically driven world.
Their alleged hacking activities targeted major companies and the developers of a highly popular videogame franchise, causing significant financial losses and instilling fear within the affected organizations.
The ongoing trial serves as a stark reminder of the need for robust cybersecurity measures and the importance of combating cyber crime to safeguard our increasingly interconnected society.
Samridhi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. Her research interests lie in examining the intersection of the social sector with poverty and inequality,
Along with this she is keen in understanding the systemic and structural issues that governs growth and development with an interdisciplinary focus.