Five arrested for hacking anti-WikiLeaks computers

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LONDON - Five people, including three teenagers, were arrested Thursday on charges of hacking computers of companies perceived as “enemies” of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Three boys - aged 15, 16 and 19 - were arrested with two men, aged 20 and 26, in coordinated arrests across Britain, The Independent reported.

London’s Metropolitan Police said: “The arrests are in relation to recent and ongoing ‘distributed denial of service’ attacks (DDoS) by an online group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’.”

“They are part of an ongoing investigation into Anonymous which began last year following criminal allegations of DDoS attacks by the group against several companies. This investigation is being carried out in conjunction with international law enforcement agencies in Europe and the US.”

Detectives from Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) arrested the five at 7 a.m. Thursday from addresses in the West Midlands, Northants, Herts, Surrey and London.

Anonymous made headlines last year when the group launched “Operation Payback”, attacking companies that withdrew services from WikiLeaks. The “hacktivists” targeted brands such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.

The DDoS attacks use software designed to illegally access a computer and can be done with minimal knowledge. Hacktivists flood their target’s server so it is overloaded and unavailable for legitimate users.

Under British law, it is a criminal offence to carry out “any unauthorised act in relation to a computer” where the person “has the requisite intent and the requisite knowledge” to do it.

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