British police working with the FBI have arrested a 19-year-old man over attacks by the Lulz Security hacking group on the websites of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States Senate, Sony and others, Scotland Yard said on Tuesday.
The man was arrested on Monday night at a house in the town of Wickford in Essex, southeast England, over allegations of fraud and computer misuse. He is being questioned at a London police station, police said.
“Yes, the arrest is in connection with the Lulz Security attacks. We believe this to be a significant arrest,” a police source confirmed.
Lulz Security has claimed responsibility for a month-long rampage on targets around the world, with the British national census saying Tuesday that it was checking whether it had become the latest victim.
There have been no postings since early Tuesday morning on a Twitter account purportedly belonging to Lulz.
Scotland Yard said that officers from the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit “have arrested a 19-year-old man in a pre-planned intelligence-led operation”.
Denial of Service
“The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and Distributed Denial of Service [DDoS] attacks against a number of international businesses and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group,” it said.
Under a DDoS attack, a website is overwhelmed with traffic and becomes sluggish or unresponsive.
“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 will continue,” the statement said.
Scotland Yard said British police have been “working in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation” in the run-up to the arrest.
The latest in a series of hacking groups to gain public prominence, Lulz knocked out the CIA’s public website, cia.gov, for about two hours last week using a DDoS attack and also hacked into the US Senate’s public website.
The group has also released tens of thousands of user names and passwords stolen from Sony and other sites, and on Monday Lulz targeted the website of Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.
British authorities said Tuesday they were investigating whether information from the 2011 national census had been hacked, adding that it had no evidence yet to suggest that it had.
“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 Office of National Statistics said in a statement.
In an online manifesto posted last week, Lulz — whose name is a derivative of the text shorthand for LOL, or “laugh out loud” — said they were staging the attacks for their own entertainment.
“You find it funny to watch havoc unfold, and we find it funny to cause it,” it said.
“For the past month and a bit, we’ve been causing mayhem and chaos throughout the Internet, attacking several targets including PBS, Sony, Fox, porn websites, FBI, CIA, the US government, Sony — some more, online gaming servers,” Lulz said.
Lulz last week denied reports that it was in conflict with the hacker group Anonymous, which gained notoriety last year with cyberattacks in support of controversial whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. — AFP