A 16-year-old British boy has admitted launching around a dozen cyber attacks on websites around the world including SeaWorld and his local Devon and Cornwall Police force. The boy, who has not been named for legal reasons targeted websites based in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, bringing them down for around 45 minutes.
He is also accused of using micro-blogging social media site Twitter to send bomb hoaxes to American Airlines and Delta Airlines. But the Plymouth teenager, described in court as 'very intelligent', denies these allegations. He is currently standing trial at the Plymouth Youth Court.
The teen pleaded guilty to three offences, committed between October 2014 and January 2015 but denied two charges of sending bomb hoaxes to US airlines via the social media platform.
The court heard how the FBI was notified after the boy allegedly targeted American Airlines on 13 February 2015. A tweet was said to have read: "One of those lovely Boeing airplanes has a tick, tick, ticking in it. Hurry gentlemen, the clock is ticking."
The White House was tagged in the tweet and subsequently the FBI was notified, Prosecutor Ben Samples said, according to the BBC. The bureau judged that the threat had little credibility so no evacuation was deemed to be necessary.
The matter was passed to the UK authorities with a similar tweet also sent to Delta Air Lines on the same day. Investigators from the Zephyr Regional Cyber Crime Unit traced the threats to the Twitter account of the boy and seized his computer, the court heard.
Police affirm that the teenager changed his story about whether or not he sent the tweets during a police interview, before finally claiming he had nothing to do with it. A Twitter account reportedly used by the boy later tweeted the Zephyr Regional Cyber Crime Unit, saying: "to be fair they caught me red handed" said Samples.
Judge Diane Baker, presiding over the case, has retired to consider her verdict which is due next Wednesday (6 July).