Industry News

Man who hacked National Lottery for just £5 is jailed for nine months

A 29-year-old British man has been jailed for nine months after admitting using hacking tools to break into UK National Lottery gambling accounts.

Anwar Batson, of Notting Hill, West London, downloaded the readily-available Sentry MBA hacking tool to launch a credential stuffing attack against the National Lottery website.

Credential stuffing takes lists of usernames and passwords exposed in data breaches and uses the same credentials to see if they will unlock other accounts online. As so many users make the mistake of reusing passwords on different websites, credential stuffing is a technique commonly deployed by attackers and tools such as Sentry MBA make the process even easier for the attacker.

Prosecutors told Southwark Crown Court that after Batson downloaded Sentry MBA he joined a WhatsApp group devoted to hacking under the alias of “Rosegold,” and provided to accomplices a configuration file specifically designed to launch Sentry MBA against the National Lottery website.

The attack, in late 2016, caused National Lottery operators Camelot to issue a warning to thousands of gamblers that their accounts may have been accessed, and forced a password reset on affected accounts.

Batson’s accomplices, Daniel Thompson and Idris Akinwunmi, were jailed in 2018 after admitting their involvement in the attack.

Batson was arrested in May 2017 by the National Crime Agency (NCA), and initially denied that he was involved in the attack – claiming that his devices had been cloned or hacked
by online trolls.

But when NCA officers examined his devices they uncovered the conversations between Rosegold and others on WhatsApp where they discussed hacking, the buying and selling of lists of usernames and password, and more.

In addition, officers found at Batson’s flat clothes which had been addressed to someone calling themself “Rosegold”.

Time and time again, people roll out the adage that “crime doesn’t pay.”

Well, it certainly doesn’t pay in the case of Batson.

As the NCA reports, Batson gave the username and password of one National Lottery player to Akinwunmi, who stole the entire contents of the account – a grand total of £13. Batson’s split of the ill-gotten gains? A mere £5.

Lottery operator Camelot says that responding to the attack cost it £230,000, and that 250 players had closed their accounts due to the negative publicity.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.