London police arrested an 18-year-old man as part of an international investigation into criminal computer crimes by “hacktivist” groups Anonymous and Lulz Security.
The police are searching the home in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, where the man, who uses the online name “Topiary” and is believed to be a member of both groups, was arrested, London’s Metropolitan Police said in an e-mailed statement today. Police didn’t identify the man, who they said is being taken to a police station in central London.
A 17-year-old male is also being interviewed by police as part of the probe and officers are searching a residence in Lincolnshire, England.
The arrest and searches are part of the police’s “ongoing investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group,” police said.
The arrest may be significant because Topiary is viewed by other members of Anonymous as a skilled hacker involved in some of the group’s most destructive attacks, according to comments in online chat rooms.
Dozens of Anonymous members have been arrested in the last several weeks in the U.S. and Europe. Members of Anonymous hide their real identity using online handles. Several suspects have claimed mistaken identity after law enforcement authorities have linked individuals to particular handles.
Barrett Brown, an informal spokesman for the group before leaving recently, said this month that most of those earlier arrests were low-level members who had little influence on Anonymous’s operations.
In online chat rooms associated with Anonymous, Topiary has been linked to the hack in February of the Sacramento, California-based security firm HBGary Federal.
Following a split in the Anonymous membership, which included fights over the direction of the group, Topiary and other hackers left to form LulzSec, according to Brown. That group took credit for attacks on the websites of the Central Intelligence Agency and the computer networks of the television network PBS and a Federal Bureau of Investigation-affiliate group called InfraGard.
Sony PlayStation 3
LulzSec claimed credit for breaking into websites at Sony Corp. and the U.S. Senate, while Anonymous said in April it would wage what it called a cyberwar against Tokyo-based Sony for trying to prevent people from tinkering with PlayStation 3 game consoles. Both LulzSec and Anonymous, composed of hundreds of hackers and activists in several countries, have targeted EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit.
The groups claim an activist agenda that includes supporting WikiLeaks and Mideast protesters.
LulzSec, which calls itself “the world’s leaders in high-quality entertainment at your expense,” hasn’t responded to the arrest on its Twitter feed.
A 19-year-old British teenager was arrested and charged in June as part of a U.K. and U.S. investigation into computer-hacking attacks on businesses and government agencies.
Prosecutors allege he was involved in a so-called denial of service attack on computers at the U.K. government’s Serious Organised Crime Agency. They claim he also took part in a similar attack on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Phonographic Industry, both of which represent the recording industry.