The hunt for hackers believed to have staged attacks on websites ranging from law enforcement bodies to Sony has led to the arrest of a teenager.
The international hunt for hackers believed to have staged high-profile attacks on websites ranging from law enforcement bodies to Sony has led to the arrest of a teenager based in Essex, police say.
The hackers known as LulzSec claim to have been behind attacks on websites around the world, including the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), the US Senate and the CIA, as well as the games firms Nintendo and Sony.
British police said intelligence led them to arrest the 19-year-old at a home in Wickford, Essex, over the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
The teenager is Ryan Cleary (19) who lived at his family home. Investigators believe the arrest is significant and linked to the attacks based mainly at websites belonging to US institutions and organisations.
The operation involved two British forces as well as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The police said they believed the attacks were linked and were carried out by the same group of hackers.
The teenager was being questioned at a London police station while specialist officers examined computer equipment seized from the address he was arrested at.
The Metropolitan police said: “Officers from the Metropolitan police central e-crime unit (PCeU) have arrested a 19-year-old man in a pre-planned intelligence-led operation.
“The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and DDoS attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.
“The teenager was arrested on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act offences and was taken to a central London police station, where he currently remains in custody for questioning.
“Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material. These forensic examinations remain ongoing.
“The PCeU was assisted by officers from Essex police and has been working in co-operation with the FBI.”
On Monday, Soca, the UK national law enforcement unit dubbed the “British FBI”, was forced to take its website offline after an apparent attack.
The website was still down early on Tuesday but was back in service later in the morning.
In a message posted on Twitter on Monday, LulzSec said: “Tango down - soca.gov.uk - in the name of #AntiSec.” The group later added: “DDoS is of course our least powerful and most abundant ammunition. Government hacking is taking place right now behind the scenes. #AntiSec.”
The next day, LulzSec warned again on Twitter of its plans to step up the attacks by hacking into government websites and stealing confidential documents. “Our next step is to categorise and format leaked items we acquire and release them in #AntiSec ‘payloads’ on our website and The Pirate Bay,” the group said.
Separately, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday it was investigating claims that the UK census data had been unlawfully accessed, following a message purporting to be from LulzSec.
It said: “We are aware of the suggestion that census data has been accessed. We are working with our security advisers and contractors to establish whether there is any substance to this.
“The 2011 census places the highest priority on maintaining the security of personal data. At this stage we have no evidence to suggest that any such compromise has occurred.”
A post to the @LulzSec Twitter account later said: “Not sure we claimed to hack the UK census or where that rumour started.” - guardian.co.uk