Bloomberg News

London Police Arrest 19-Year-Old in Sony, CIA Hacking Probe

June 21, 2011

(Updates with census data reports in 11th paragraph.)

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- London police arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of being involved in a hacking attack on Sony Corp. and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The arrest was a “pre-planned intelligence-led operation” as part of an investigation into hacking of international business and intelligence agencies, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement today. Police called it “a significant arrest.”

The police searched a residence in Essex, England, last night after the man’s arrest, which “led to the examination of a significant amount of material.” The man, who wasn’t identified, is being questioned at a police station.

Police are looking into whether the suspect is associated with Lulz Security, known as LulzSec, or Anonymous groups. LulzSec has claimed credit for breaking into websites at Sony and the U.S. Senate, while Anonymous said in April it would wage a cyber war against Tokyo-based Sony for trying to prevent people from tinkering with PlayStation 3 game consoles. Daichi Yamafuji, a spokesman for Sony, declined to comment.

“Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it’s all over now... wait... we’re all still here!” the group wrote on its Twitter feed following the arrest.

The 19-year-old was arrested on suspicion of violating the Computer Misuse Act and offenses under the Fraud Act, police said. He is also under suspicion for being involved in hacking the computers at the U.K.’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

‘Quality Entertainment’

LulzSec, which calls itself “the world’s leaders in high- quality entertainment at your expense,” claimed credit for the attack on its Twitter feed yesterday. “Tango down - soca.gov.uk - in the name of #AntiSec,” the group wrote.

Stuart Hadley, a spokesman for SOCA, said the agency was forced to take its website offline temporarily after being targeted with a distributed denial of service attack. No operational data was accessed, he said.

Such attacks require little knowledge and consist of exhausting a computer’s resources, London police have said.

The CIA’s public website was taken down on June 15. LulzSec claimed credit for the attack, saying on its website, “We don’t like the U.S. government very much.” A CIA spokesman said at the time the agency was looking into the matter.

LulzSec denied reports today that they had obtained the U.K. census records from this year.

‘Fake LulzSec Releases’

“That wasn’t us -- don’t believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first,” the group said on Twitter. “But hey, if someone out there hacked the UK government in the name of #AntiSec, well done sirs!” it said in a later post.

The Office of National Statistics said it has “no evidence to suggest that any such compromise has occurred.” It is working “to establish whether there is any substance to this,” it said in a statement on its website.

Spanish police arrested three suspected members of the Anonymous on June 10. The group hacked the websites of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s second-biggest bank, and Enel SpA, the Italian owner of Spanish power company Endesa, Spanish police said.

Anonymous, composed of hundreds of hackers and activists in several countries, gained attention in December when it targeted EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit, Visa Inc. and other companies deemed hostile to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that published U.S. military documents and diplomatic communications on its website.

London police in January arrested five males, including three teenagers, as part of a probe of corporate cyber attacks related to WikiLeaks. Hours later in the U.S., agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed 40 search warrants in a similar investigation.

--With assistance from Aoife White in Brussels and Erik Larson in London. Editor: Anthony Aarons

To contact the reporter for this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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