U.K. police arrest 19-year-old over hacking attacks

No word yet on whether the teenager has links to hacking collectives Lulz Security or Anonymous

Published June 21, 2011 1:33PM (EDT)

British police say they are searching the computer seized from a 19-year-old suspected hacker for links to a cyberattack on Sony.

The Metropolitan 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 did confirm that a computer seized in the operation will be examined for Sony data.

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

The teenager was arrested late Monday following a joint operation by Britain's Internet crimes unit and the FBI.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) -- A 19-year-old man suspected of hacking attacks on international businesses and intelligence agencies has been arrested, British police said Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police said the teenager is in custody on suspicion of hacking and fraud offenses following a joint operation by its Internet crimes unit and the FBI.

Police would not say whether the man is believed to be linked to either the Anonymous or Lulz Security hacking collectives, which have called for "war" on governments that control the Internet and claimed responsibility for a string of high-profile attacks on targets such as Sony, the CIA web page and the U.S. Senate computer system.

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

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

Lulz Security issued a statement Monday calling for a united hacker effort against governments and organizations that control the Internet. It said it had hacked into an FBI partner organization on Sunday.

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.

Anonymous and similar hacker organizations are notable for their leaderless, diffuse construction that maximizes secrecy but can lead to mixed or unclear messages.

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 webpage and the U.S. Senate computer system.

Most recently, Lulz said it had hacked into Britain's census data, obtaining the records of "every single citizen." Census officials said Tuesday they were investigating the claim.

The group has taken to taunting victims of its attacks on Twitter using the handle "LulzSec."


Associated Press writer Meera Selva contributed to this report


Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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