LulzSec sting: UK nabs alleged hacker

Scotland Yard arrests a man with alleged ties to LulzSec. While initial reports fingered the suspect as a "mastermind," LulzSec called him only "mildly associated" with the group.

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    A snapshot of LulzSec's Twitter feed after the arrest.
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Days after hackers from the Lulz Security (LulzSec) group attacked websites in Great Britain and the United States, a man was arrested in the UK on Tuesday in a joint Scotland Yard and FBI anti-hacking sting. Police did not named the man, but the BBC identified him as a 19 year old from Wickford, Essex. He was arrested under Britain's computer misuse and fraud acts.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the arrest followed an investigation into distributed denial-of-service attacks against international businesses and intelligence agencies, and that after the arrest, police were investigating material believed to be related to the attacks. Distributed denial-of-service attacks are designed to shut down websites by overwhelming. Scotland Yard would not say who was behind the hacking attacks, but speculation was widespread that they were carried out by LulzSec, the Internet “anti-security group” that appeared last month and has since become notorious for pranks and attacks against groups ranging from the US Senate and the CIA to Sony and PBS.

Soon after the arrest, Sky News reported that the suspect was considered by police to be the "mastermind behind notorious international computer hacking group LulzSec." Later on Tuesday, CNET speculated that he may have been connected with both LulzSec and Anonymous, the politically-motivated Internet collective out of which LulzSec is said to have coalesced in May. CNET reported on a feud between the two groups last month that culminated in the posting of information purportedly identifying the now-detained suspect.

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LulzSec, however, said on its Twitter account Tuesday that the suspect "is not part of LulzSec," and later said he was only "mildly associated with" the group. He apparently hosted some of LulzSec's online chatrooms on his server.

LulzSec initially portrayed itself in lighthearted terms, saying that the group had been designed to create online laughs (Lulz). However, it soon began targeting US broadcasters and gaming firms, and is suspected of breaking into CIA and NHS websites. The day before this arrest, LulzSec declared its intention to leak classified government information to its website, and announced that the sites of the CIA and Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) had been taken offline in the name of “Anti-Security.”

Do groups like LulzSec and Anonymous play a legitimate role in the online security landscape today? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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