It looks like police in the UK may have their first LulzSec hacker suspect in hand. The Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) reports this morning that it's arrested a 19-year-old man in an intelligence sting putatively related to hacker group LulzSec. LulzSec's notorious for claimed roles in taking down organizations ranging from PBS and various video game sites to both the U.S. Senate and CIA's websites.
The group, whose name derives from "lulz" (a variant of Internet slang "lol") and "security," recently took its game to Twitter, where it now brazenly announces its illicit activities while mocking detractors and organizations it deems poorly or amateurishly defended. Just yesterday, the group went after the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
"Tango down - soca.gov.uk - in the name of #AntiSec," the group tweeted on Monday afternoon.
(More on PCWorld: UK Police Arrest Teen From Lulz Security for DDOS Attack )
In a statement this morning, the PCeU wrote that the arrest "follows an investigation into network intrusions and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group." According to our own wire service, a Scotland Yard spokesman said yesterday that the arrest was connected to the DDoS attacks on SOCA, and that the attacks had ceased after the arrest.
DDoS, a way to cripple websites by overwhelming them, has been LulzSec's calling card. Just yesterday, the group tweeted: "DDoS is of course our least powerful and most abundant ammunition. Government hacking is taking place right now behind the scenes."
PCeU says it arrested the teenager "on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act, and Fraud Act offences" and that he's presently being held at a central London police station for questioning. His residence in Wickford, Essex was also searched, reportedly uncovering "a significant amount of material."
How significant is this arrest? It's anyone's guess, but that hasn't stopped some in the media from doing so. Britain's 24-hour news trawler Sky News appears to have jumped the gun by inexplicably referring to the teen as a suspected "mastermind" within the group, but then fails to source that claim.
(More on PCWorld: Who Hacked Sega? LulzSec Wants to Know )
Security group Sophos took aim at LulzSec this morning, writing "[one] had to wonder if all of this bragging could lead to the group's downfall" and claiming "it would, after all, be hard to keep a secret from friends and peers if you were a member of LulzSec."
Would it really? Perhaps. Sophos suggests LulzSec is "drunk with the popularity of their Twitter account," which as this post goes live has over 225,000 followers.
So to summarize: Hacker? Allegedly. LulzSec member? Possibly (the PCeU's statement implies so, but vaguely). And Mastermind? At this point, no clue whatsoever.
[UPDATE: And here's LulzSec's initial reaction to the arrest at 9:28am ET: "Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it's all over now... wait... we're all still here! Which poor bastard did they take down?"]