But at least some of the suspects are not your typical hard-core hackers, judging from interviews with two of them and the online traces of others. Some did not bother to cover their digital tracks as they participated in what they saw as an online protest. And some say they were unaware that their feverish clicks on a home computer may have been against the law.
The suspects, mostly in their 20s and living unremarkable lives in small towns and suburbs across the country, now face up to 15 years in prison. Among them are a college student, an ex-Marine, a couple of self-taught computer programmers, even a young man whose only celebrity before last week’s arrest was that he dressed up as Harry Potter for a movie premiere.