A TEENAGER who hacked into thousands of employees’ computers and is believed to have gotten hold of 1.7 million passwords has been handed a suspended sentence.

Callum Gentry-Brown, of Cavendish Drive, Lawford, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday.

The 19-year-old was charged with carrying out an authorised attack on a computer system, possessing articles in connection with fraud and securing unauthorised access to computer material.

Gentry-Brown admitted all the charges, which took place from his bedroom when he was aged between 16 and 17.

The court heard Gentry-Brown was a “bent employee” of Ace24 Consultancy, based in Colchester, who targeted the company’s resources in an attack called mail bombing.

The cyber attack cluttered up the company’s system and left some business arrangements in chaos for a brief period.

A total of 55 folders containing more than 2,000 company files were taken from the system by Gentry-Brown, which included a passport.

The court also heard software to alter the passport and a host of material to open PayPal accounts to trade online were discovered.

John Waller, prosecuting, said it is suspected Gentry-Brown got hold of 1.7 million people’s email addresses and passwords.

He said: “The police became involved and and computer equipment was seized which related to the offences.

“Several devices were seized from the defendant’s bedroom.”

“Ace24 Consultancy files were stored a this device, but they were deleted.

“ Some 2,926 files had been copied from Ace24 Consultancy’s system.”

Stephen Page, mitigating, said Gentry-Brown had made tremendous progress since the time of his offences.

“When the police came to his house he was pleased of their attendance and realised it was time to change his life around,” he added.

Mr Page said his ADHD diagnosis was a contributing factor to his errors.

Judge David Turner QC told the court it was absolutely terrifying to know a 16-year-old could commit such crimes.

He said: “These sorts of hacking cases are serious with the potential to cause enormous damage to businesses, individuals and the public.”

“You spent a lot of time on your own and got addicted to gaming and saw this as a way of making money, and here you are at 19 at the dock of a crown court.”

Gentry-Brown was sentenced to serve to nine months at a young offenders’ institute suspended for two years and do 200 hours of unpaid work.