Man jailed following cyber attack on Cheshire Police website

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A man who used specialist software to make the Cheshire Police website inaccessible has been jailed.

Chester Crown Court heard Liam Watts, of Stratford Road, Chorley, overload the website - and that of the Greater Manchester force, causing them to malfunction.

During both attacks Watts posted messages on social media in which he admitted responsibility. He even taunted officers about the pleasure he had at being able to bring the sites down.

Within one of the messages posted at the time of the attack on the Cheshire police website, Watts claimed the attack was retaliation for a previous conviction relating to a bomb hoax in Warrington. 

The 20-year-old, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorised acts with intent to impair operation of or prevent / hinder access to a computer.

He has today (12 August) been sentenced to 16 months in prison.

During the hearing the Judge described Watts’ actions as “a fundamental attack on the heart of society.”  

Detective Sergeant Chris Maddocks, of the Cheshire Constabulary Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Watts is an immature individual who deprived the people of Cheshire and Greater Manchester of their access to a public service by taking down Police websites. While sitting behind his computer screen he clearly felt safe enough to commit a serious offence under Computer Misuse Act offences. 

“While attacking police websites may not be seen as a serious offence, the impact of Watts’s actions should not be underestimated. 

“As a result of the two distributed denial of service attacks, he rendered the websites inaccessible, meaning that thousands of people were unable to access the sites to view vital information, seek updates on the progress of ongoing investigations, report minor crimes or contact local officers.

“I hope that  Watts' conviction will act as a warning to anyone who would engage in this type of behaviour online. This shows how seriously both police and the courts treat crimes of this nature.

“I would also like to reassure the public that at no point was Watts able to view any confidential information, nor was he able to access any police systems. Both of the sites are provided on standalone platforms and all of the information stored on them is accessible to public.”

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