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Police arrest five over Anonymous attacks


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 27 Jan 2011 at 13:28

Police have arrested five people over their alleged roles in an online campaign to support WikiLeaks.

Five males – aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26 – were arrested under the Computer Misuse Act in raids across the country at 7am this morning, with the suspects held in local police stations for further questioning.

According to the Met Police, the arrests relate "to recent and ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by an online group calling themselves 'Anonymous'."

The wave of DDoS attacks started late last year and targeted PayPal, MasterCard and others who were perceived to have taken a stand against the whistle-blowing site following its release of leaked diplomatic cables.

The arrests follow an investigation by the Police Central e-Crime Unit and law enforcement agencies on mainland Europe and the US into the series of attacks which quickly gathered support on the web.

The Met Police said in December that it has been investigating Anonymous for several months, suggesting it started to look at the web activists before the WikiLeaks-connected attacks. The group has also targeted Scientology sites as well as anti-piracy firms, including ACS Law.

A pair of Dutch teenagers were arrested at the end of last year, also for allegedly taking part in Anonymous' Operation Payback attacks.

Anonymous has recently targeted official Tunisian and Egyptian sites, following anti-Government protests in those countries.

It is unclear exactly what charges the police might bring at this stage, but experts last year told PC Pro that Wikileaks protests involving DDoS attacks could carry a two-year jail stretch.

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User comments


I would hate if police was wasting their resources on people like those scammers who target pensioners or even some pedophiles grooming kids online. It's good to know that when it matters they can act quickly and efficiently.

By Josefov on 27 Jan 2011

It's not what you know, but who you know.

Scammed pensioners and abused children can't lobby (bribe) MP's so their needs are unimportant.
Why do you think the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through the last parliament? Not because British Business wanted or needed the bill, but because corporate America wanted laws to protect their "intelectual rights" and pave the way for wide-scale litigation.

By cheysuli on 27 Jan 2011

Nice to know plod is putting the same amount of effort into those that conducted and arranged the DDOS attacks against the Wikileaks site. With this and the News of the World debacle, the police are hardly covering themselves with the air of independence at the moment.

By Nodule on 27 Jan 2011

To be fair to the current spate of news stories, the police and the rest of the executive branch generally don't cover themselves in a air of independence at anytime. We technically rely on judges to be independent of political pressures.

Personally I think we absolutely do need a distinctly non-political police service and I'm stunned that more hasn't been done about that.

By steviesteveo12 on 27 Jan 2011

The police act fast

When corporate profits are threatened or governments are in danger of being embarrassed.

By Lacrobat on 28 Jan 2011


the police could act faster here, because the idiots used the LOIC tool, which doesn't mask their IP-address.

If I spray graffitti on the wall, it is illegal, but I will probably get away with it. The same for a proper DDoS attack.

Using LOIC is like spraying graffiti on the wall and then signing it with your name and address.

What they did was illegal and it caused a lot of inconvinience for normal people. One podcast I listen to, has a business model that relies on donations which comes almost exclusively over PayPal. During the attacks, their income dropped by over 70% and they couldn't cover their operating expenses!

I'm all for people standing behind a cause, but they shouldn't break the law in doing so - civil uprisings and rebellions against despots excluded. If they do break the law, they should expect to pay the consequences, especially if they are silly enough to leave their home address behind.

By big_D on 28 Jan 2011

Write to you MP

Ask them how much was spent tracking down 5 mostly harmless teenagers, and how much has been spent tracking the scammers.
As for the voice mail, if their activities are all above board then they have nothing to fear. That is what they tell privacy advocates.

By tirons1 on 28 Jan 2011

Paypal shouldnt have gone political

Paypal made a political decision not to accept payments for Wiki. It was politically motivated, not commercial.

If they make political decisions like that, they should expect the consequences.

I'm not condoning the actions of Anonymous, but can understand them, and indeed even sympathise. We are so often fed the fallacy that if we dont like something we can vote (or vote with our wallets). This is a fallacy, and in this age people have discovered that there is another, more direct means of expressing dissatisfaction; instead of picketing the buildings, one can 'picket' the website.

By alan_lj on 29 Jan 2011

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