Police Collar Five Suspects Over Wikileaks Hacks

Police have arrested five people suspected of being involved in the Anonymous DDoS attacks

As predicted, the Wikileaks controversy rumbles on, after news broke that the police have arrested five people in connection with the hacktivist group Anonymous.

Speaking to eWEEK Europe UK just before Christmas, a Metropolitan police spokesman confirmed that they had been investigating Anonymous for some time.

“Earlier this year (2010), the Metropolitan police service received a number of allegations of denial of service cyber attacks againat several companies by a group calling itself Anonymous,” a police spokesman told eWEEK Europe UK at that time. “We are investigating these criminal allegations and our investigation is ongoing.”

Five Arrests

And it seems that the police’s investigation has paid off. Detectives from the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) have reportedly arrested five people in connection with offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

According to a statement from the Metropolitan police, the five arrested people are all men, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26. All suspects are being held after a series of coordinated arrests at residential addresses in the West Midlands, Northants, Herts, Surrey and London at 7am on 27 January.

“The arrests are in relation to recent and ongoing ‘distributed denial of service’ attacks (DDoS) by an online group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’,” said the police. “They are part of an ongoing MPS investigation into Anonymous which began last year following criminal allegations of DDoS attacks by the group against several companies.”

And it seems that the police also roped in assistance from foreign agencies.

“This investigation is being carried out in conjunction with international law enforcement agencies in Europe and the US,” said the police.

“All five have been taken to local police stations where they remain in custody,” the police said. If convicted, the suspects could face ten years in prison and a fine of £5,000.

Anonymous Attacks

Anonymous is thought to be the group behind a number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks last year. The law firm Gallant Macmillan and its client, Ministry of Sound were hacked in October. Both firms were targeted after they sued for the details of PlusNet subscribers who may have downloaded music illegally.

And in November Anonymous was thought to have been responsible for taking down the website of the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as revenge for the legal action against The Pirate Bay.

But all of that paled into insignificance after a fierce cyber war erupted in December, following the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who was later freed on bail. Assange is currently facing a court hearing on 7 and 8 February, to decide whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

Subsequent DDoS attacks by Anonymous brought down the websites of PayPal and Mastercard, because they had stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks after it published leaks of classified US diplomatic cables.

After Christmas, Anonymous was then identified as being behind attacks against the government websites of Zimbabwe and Tunisia.

by WikiLeaks supporters (including Anonymous)