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June 10, 2011 6:17 pm

Spain arrests activists blamed for Sony attack

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Spanish national police on Friday said they had arrested three members of Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of activists thought to be responsible for attacks on Sony and the websites of other companies and governments.

The arrests come in the midst of a wave of cybercrime around the globe. Big technology companies, including Lockheed Martin, the defence contractor, and Acer, the computer-maker, have seen their systems breached in recent days.

Codemasters, a UK video game developer, also admitted on Friday that its website had been attacked, putting at risk thousands of users’ data.

Sony, the Japanese technology and media group, has been among the most targeted companies. An attack on its PlayStation Network nearly two months ago led to the theft of more than 100m user records.

The Spanish police did not say that the three arrested were behind those attacks, but instead claimed they were responsible for other attacks on Sony.

The group has since struggled to recover from the PlayStation attacks, despite pledges from chief executive Sir Howard Stringer that the group had overhauled security measures.

Spanish police said the arrests had been made in Barcelona, Valencia and Almería after attacks on Spanish political sites.

“We detained three people responsible, one of whom had in his home a server used to co-ordinate and execute information attacks on governments, financial organisations and companies around the world,” the police said.

“The leadership relied on vast knowledge of IT and telecommunications – security, vulnerabilities and intrusions,” they added.

Targets of the Spanish activists included Sony and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand, according to the police.

“To hide their activities, they employed sophisticated coding techniques in their communications that made it practically impossible to intercept and identify them,” the police said.

But discussion of the arrests in one hacker chatroom mocked the police’s representation of the individuals, saying that they were unlikely to be leaders of Anonymous, which styles itself as an antihierarchical organisation.

The discussions suggested the individuals arrested were involved in throwing websites offline but not the more sophisticated hacking that captured user data.

Sony did not reply to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Barney Jopson in New York

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