Police have arrested an 18-year-old man over involvement in the cyber-attacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming services over Christmas, for which the Lizard Squad hacking group claimed responsibility.
The man was arrested on Friday in Boundary Street, Southport, on suspicion of computer hacking, threats to kill and “swatting” – a new kind of prank being played on celebrities in the US including Tom Cruise that sees an armed police or Swat team turn up on the doorstep.
Computers and other electronic devices were seized during the arrest by officers from the two UK cybercrime units working in conjunction with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Craig Jones, head of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit’s (Serocu) cyber division said police were still in the early stages of an investigation working closely with the FBI to identify further people involved in the attacks.
“This investigation is a good example of joint law enforcement cooperation in relation to a type of criminality that is not restricted by any geographical boundaries.
“We are pursuing cybercriminals using the latest technology and working with businesses and academia to further develop specialist investigative capabilities to protect and reduce the risk to the public,” said Jones.
Deputy chief constable Peter Goodman, national policing lead for cybersecurity at the Association of Police Officers, said: “This is a significant arrest … of a UK citizen suspected of engaging in serious and organised cybercrime on the national and international stage.”
“This arrest demonstrates that we will pursue those who commit crime with the false perception they are protected within their own homes or hiding behind anonymous online personas,” Goodman said.
This is the second arrest made by police in the UK involving the Lizard Squad hacking group.
A 22-year-old man arrested by police investigating cyberfraud offences in 2013-14 at the start of January was linked with the attacks on the PSN and Xbox Live. The unnamed man from Twickenham was arrested in a similar raid on his home by Serocu before being released on bail.
The Lizard Squad, described as “a band of young hooligans” by independent security researcher Brian Krebs, has been linked with a series of high-profile distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
These attacks prevent legitimate users of services such as Sony’s PlayStation Network from connecting to them by bombarding them with bogus connections, overloading the service and effectively taking it offline often until the attack ceases.
The group recently launched a DDoS tool that could allow anyone to conduct similar attacks on targets of their choosing, costing between $6 (£3.85) and $500 per attack paid via the bitcoin cryptocurrency.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Friday 16th January 2015 13.23 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010