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Published: Tuesday, 6/21/2011

British police arrest man suspected in string of high-profile hacking attacks

ASSOCIATED PRESS
A frame grab of the PBS website after it was hacked. A frame grab of the PBS website after it was hacked.
AP/PBS Enlarge

LONDON — A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of involvement with cyber attacks on Sony and the CIA website, British police said Tuesday.

The arrest took place following a joint operation by its Internet crimes unit and the FBI, the Metropolitan Police said. The FBI declined to comment.

British police would not say if the suspect was tied to the Lulz Security hacking collective, which has claimed responsibility for recent high-profile attacks, but confirmed that a computer seized in the operation will be examined for Sony data. Police declined to identify the suspect because he has not been charged with a crime.

Lulz had boasted of successfully hacking Sony in addition to subsequent attacks on the CIA web page and the U.S. Senate computer system. The hackers recently called for "war" on governments that control the Internet.

Although little is known about Lulz, hacker collectives are typically loose networks with diffuse supporters in more than one location, so an arrest could do little to bring down an organization and even encourage supporters to carry on a group's cause.

The teenager was arrested in the commuter town of Wickford, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of London, late Monday on suspicion of hacking and fraud offenses and taken to a central London police station for questioning, police said.

Police said the arrest resulted from an investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial-of-service attacks against "a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group."

Officers are conducting forensic examinations on "a significant amount of material" found in the search of a home following the arrest.

Lulz has taken credit for hacking into Sony Corp. — where more than 100 million user accounts were compromised — and defacing the PBS website after the U.S. public television station aired a documentary seen as critical of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The hackers also say they are responsible for attacks on the CIA website and the U.S. Senate computer system.

Most recently, Lulz said it had compromised the security of more than 1,000 accounts of an FBI partner organization and brought down the website of Britain's FBI equivalent, the Serious Organized Crime Agency.

The group has taken to taunting victims of its attacks on Twitter using the handle "LulzSec." The Twitter account appeared to make light of the news about Tuesday's arrest, giving no indication anyone from the group was involved.

"Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it's all over now... wait... we're all still here!," the group Tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, Lulz Security issued a statement calling for a united hacker effort against governments and organizations that control the Internet.

The group said it was teaming with fellow hacker collective Anonymous, and encouraged others to fight corruption and attack any government or agency that "crosses their path" including banks and other "high-ranking establishments."

Anonymous is a group of online activists that has claimed responsibility for attacking companies online such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal over their severing of ties with WikiLeaks following that group's release of troves of sensitive documents. Anonymous also led a campaign against the Church of Scientology.



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