Bloomberg News

Alleged Sony Pictures Hacker From LulzSec Arrested by FBI

September 23, 2011

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- A Phoenix man alleged to be a member of the LulzSec hacking group was arrested by the FBI on charges he broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.’s computer systems in May and June.

Cody Kretsinger was arrested yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in an e-mailed statement. Kretsinger, 23, belonged to Lulz Security, or LulzSec, a group of “elite computer hackers” that undertook cyber attacks on the computer systems of businesses and government entities in the U.S. and around the world, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles.

Kretsinger, who used the alias “Recursion,” and other unidentified hackers probed the Sony Inc. unit’s computer systems for vulnerabilities and obtained confidential information that was posted on a LulzSec website and on the group’s twitter account, according to the indictment.

LulzSec is affiliated with an international hackers group called “Anonymous,” the FBI said in the statement.

Kretsinger faces as long as 15 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, the FBI said.

The name of Kretsinger’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available.

LulzSec Posted Statements

LulzSec in June posted statements online saying it had broken into SonyPictures.com and downloaded unencrypted personal information, including passwords, e-mail addresses and dates of birth from 1 million user accounts.

The attack followed earlier ones this year in which Tokyo- based Sony had said more than 100 million accounts were compromised after hackers broke into its networks. Sony suspended operation of the PlayStation Network in the U.S. and Europe for six weeks after the earlier attacks.

Sony said in May there was some evidence linking Anonymous to the PlayStation hack. There have been no arrests in that case.

LulzSec, following the attack on Sony Pictures’ systems, posted customer information online from what appeared to be sweepstakes and loyalty-program databases, including one tied to the long-running soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” The group also took information from Sony music operations in Belgium and the Netherlands, it said.

The group, which has also claimed credit for hacking into websites of the U.S. Senate and Central Intelligence Agency, said later in June that it was ending its cyber attacks. The CIA’s public website was taken down on June 15.

Hacker activist groups gained attention after Anonymous, made up of hundreds of members in several countries, in December targeted EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit, Visa Inc. and other companies deemed hostile to WikiLeaks, an organization that posts secret documents on the Web.

U.S. prosecutors in July arrested and charged 14 people with involvement in the PayPal attacks.

The case is U.S. v. Kretsinger, 11-848, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

--With assistance from Michael Riley in Washington. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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