Australian Police Arrest Suspected Leader Of Hacktivist Group LulzSec
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Australian police say they have arrested the self-proclaimed leader of the international hacktivist organization known as Lulz Security, or LulzSec. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) say the 24-year old IT worker, whose name was not released to the media, was arrested on Tuesday night at his Sydney office.
He is accused of attacking and defacing a government website earlier this month reported the BBC. He reportedly used his position in an IT company to access sensitive information on clients, which included government agencies.
On Tuesday he was charged with two counts of unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment, and one count of unauthorized access to restricted data. He now faces a maximum of 12 years in jail.
According to the AFP, the self-proclaimed leader of the hacker group is also the first member of the group to be charged in Australian courts. The investigation began earlier this month when AFP Cyber Crime Operations investigators reportedly found a “compromise” on a government website.
The suspect, who reportedly lives in the city of Gosford about 50 miles north of Sydney and goes by the online moniker ℠Aushok,´ had repeatedly claimed in online forums that he was the group´s leader. His online activity had already brought him to the attention of international law enforcement prior to the attack that eventually led to his arrest the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The AFP issued a warning to hackers stating that the impairment or disruption of communications to or from computer networks can have serious legal consequences.
“Those thinking of engaging in such activities should be warned that hacking, creating or propagating malicious viruses or participating in Distributed Denial of Service attacks are not harmless fun,” said AFP Cyber Crime Operations Commander Glen McEwen in a statement. “Criminal acts such as this can result in serious long-term consequences for individuals, such as criminal convictions or imprisonment.”
Formed in 2011, LulzSec is an offshoot of the infamous international hacktivist group Anonymous. Its name is derived from the popular Internet term ℠LOL,´ which means ℠laugh out loud.´ LulzSec has grabbed headlines in the past by executing a series of high-profile cyber attacks against the CIA, Sony, the US Public Broadcasting Service and the UK´s Serious Organized Crime Agency.
The cyber attack against Sony´s website took down the company´s PlayStation Network for weeks and allowed hackers to access millions of users´ accounts. It was estimated to have cost the company more than $100 million.
An American member of LulzSec, Cody Kretsinger, was sentenced last week in a Los Angeles court to one year in prison for his role on the Sony attack. Kretsinger, who went by the online moniker ℠Recursion,´ pleaded guilty to the cyber attack as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.
While it is unclear whether the Australian suspect now in custody is indeed the real leader of the group, its previous leader Hector Xavier Monsegur — known to his cyber peers as ℠Sabu´ — provided federal law enforcement officials in the United States with information on the group as part of a plea deal following his 2011 arrest.
Anonymous has reportedly dismissed claims that the Australian suspect is actually the group´s leader. The UK´s Guardian reported that the group tweeted “Nope not part of the usual suspects in any of our [channels] of communication.”