Shetland man held for global cyber sabotage

A TEENAGER suspected of being the spokesman for two international hacking groups which have wreaked havoc across the world has been arrested by Scotland Yard officers in a swoop on the Northern Isles.

The 18-year-old was arrested yesterday in Shetland by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's central e-crime unit as part of an investigation into hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec.

The groups of so-called "hacktivists" are linked to a series of high-profile computer-hacking operations and "cyber terrorist" attacks in recent months against targets said to have included the CIA.

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The arrest of the unnamed teenager was announced late yesterday afternoon by the Metropolitan Police following a carefully planned operation on Shetland assisted by detectives from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

The teenager was taken into custody at an undisclosed address on Shetland and was last night being flown to London for questioning. His home was still being searched last night.

In a separate operation in England, a 17-year-old was being questioned by officers from the cyber crime unit following a raid on a house in Lincolnshire.

A Met spokesman said: "Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU] today arrested an 18-year-old man in a pre-planned intelligence-led operation.

"The man arrested is believed to be linked to an ongoing international investigation into the criminal activity of the so-called 'hacktivist' groups Anonymous and LulzSec, and uses the online nickname 'Topiary' which is presented as the spokesperson for the groups.

"He was arrested at an address in the Shetland Islands and is currently being transported to a police station in central London. A search is ongoing at the address."

The spokesman continued: "A residential address in Lincolnshire is also being searched. A 17-year-old male is being interviewed under caution in connection with the inquiry. He has not been arrested.

"Today's operation is linked to PCeU's ongoing investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.

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"It was carried out with the assistance of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and Lincolnshire Constabulary."

Yesterday's police operation on Shetland follows the arrest earlier this week of a 16-year-old in south London also said to be linked to the activities of Anonymous and LulzSec. The 16-year-old has been arrested under the Computer Misuse Act.

LulzSec announced it was disbanding last month.

The group stated: "We must now sail into the distance, leaving behind - we hope - inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love. If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere."

LulzSec has previously claimed responsibility for attempted hacking operations made on the Serious Organised Crime Agency in Britain, the CIA's public website, the US Senate and the Sun newspaper.

The internet "hacktivist" group known as Anonymous has also been linked with cyber attacks against consumer electronics giant Sony and banking groups Visa and MasterCard. The attacks are said to be linked to "Operation Payback", a series of attacks where a company's internet servers have been flooded with traffic in a bid to bring its website down.These attacks have been staged in protest against the action taken against WikiLeaks by various companies worldwide following the internet release of US government secret documents and diplomatic reports.

Anonymous, according to some reports, has been engaged in "hacktivism" since 2003.

One website, devoted to reports of cyber attacks and the activities of various groups, alleges: "Topiary is a hacktivist and self-described 'supporter of anonymous operations, Wiki- Leaks, and maintaining freedom on the internet' and is heavily involved within the internet group Anonymous."

The posting continues: "On 24 February, 2011, Topiary appeared on the David Pakman Show and successfully replaced a Westboro Baptist Church webpage with a message from Anonymous during an on-air confrontation with Shirley Phelps-Roper. A recording of this event was placed on YouTube, where it quickly went viral, reaching just over one million views in five days."

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The news of the arrest of the 18-year-old surprised islanders.

Shetland councillor Jonathan Wills said: "I know nothing at all. I can't make any comment because I haven't heard a thing."

Another resident on Shetland, who did not wish to be named, said: "You would think something like this would be all over Shetland but no-one I know has heard a peep."

Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, is fighting extradition to America over allegations of hacking into US military computers. He admits breaking into systems including those of Nasa and the Pentagon, but says he was seeking evidence of UFOs.