Hacking has been in the news often of late, spurred by the recent surge in activity from online hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec. While the members of these organisations might span across the globe, this hasn’t stopped the FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies such as Scotland Yard, from closing in. Below is a summary of who was arrested, and where these arrests were made.
Anonymous felt the brunt of the law as it saw 14 people arrested on charges of “conspiring to intentionally damage protected computers at PayPal”. The incident in question happened in December 2010, and was retribution for PayPal’s suspension of the WikiLeaks account, which was intended to prevent supporters donating to the website. The arrests, which ranged from Alabama to Ohio, show the extent of operation currently under way by the FBI.
In another incident, a man from Sarasota was arrested on charges of intentionally damaging a protected computer, following alleged access of the InfraGard Tampa Bay (an FBI partner) website in June 2011. This was once again the work of Anonymous; though targeting an organisation affiliated with the FBI saw the suspect arrested less than a month after the hacking took place.
Anonymous was not the only group suffering losses at the hands of the FBI, with LulzSec members also feeling the heat. A Las Cruces man was arrested on charges of stealing confidential business information from AT&T servers, and posting this information to the public domain in April 2011.
Britain and the rest of the world
It seems one 16 year old from London wasn’t beyond the reach of the FBI either, as the agency worked with local law enforcement to bring the teen in. He is alleged to have played a part in online hacking with either Anonymous or Lulzsec, though details remain sketchy.
This follows the arrest of Ryan Cleary, another Brit who got caught out following online hacking antics. The FBI worked with Scotland Yard on this, and Cleary faces charges of contravening the Computer Misuse Act as well as the Fraud Act.
Finally, four hackers have been arrested in the Netherlands, though Dutch authorities have so far remained tight lipped on the details. The arrests relate to the worldwide operation carried out by the FBI in partnership with local law officials though, so chances of the arrests being in connection with either Anonymous or LulzSec are pretty good.
If the American hackers are found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 dollar fine as well as an additional 5 years prison term and $250,000 for each additional count against them. While this is a rather intimidating sentence, leniency is normally shown in return for the hackers working for the US government.
Regardless of the protection hackers make use of (with Tor and Botnets being two examples), it seems law agencies have means to trace and arrest hackers given enough time. While this may result in jail time or steep fines for some hackers, perhaps the benefit of an internet wide security re-evaluation will do the online space some good.