Just as hacktivists LulzSec claimed it had hacked all 2011 UK Census data, reports suggest a 19-year-old teenager has been arrested in Essex suspected of being the group’s ringleader.
Sky News and other media outlets are reporting that a joint operation between the FBI and Scotland Yard has led to a 19-year-old male being arrested in Wickford, Essex this morning, suspected of being the mastermind behind the hacktivist group called Lulz Security (or LulzSec) who have been behind a wave of cyber attacks in recent months. A Scotland Yard spokesman told Sky News: "The arrest follows an 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. Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material. These forensic examinations remain ongoing." The Met and Essex Police are working "in cooperation" with the FBI, the spokesman said.
Reports emerged this morning that LulzSec’s latest victim was the vast volume of data contained in the 2011 UK Census. A document posted on PasteBin said that the group had obtained the data and was in the process of reformatting it before publishing it as a torrent file on Pirate Bay where anyone could download it. Should the claim prove accurate and the data become public, it will leave government officials red faced and with a huge crisis on their hands. A statement from the Office of National Statistics however this afternoon said: "At this stage we have no evidence to suggest that any such compromise has occurred."
On Monday evening the group carried out a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) forcing the agency to take its website offline for several hours. While Scotland Yard failed to say the arrest was linked specifically to this DDoS attack, it would seem that LulzSec’s latest choice of target has gotten it into hot water. The group has used Twitter extensively to disseminate information about its attacks but at the time of publishing the account had no activity for eight hours. Initially attacking companies like Sony, Nintendo and other games sites, LulzSec has recently being upping the ante with attacks on the likes of the FBI, CIA and now SOCA in the UK.
The 19-year-old is still in custody in a police station in central London and we will keep you up to date as events unfold throughout the day.
Update: LulzSec has been back on Twitter in the past hour to say that the person arrested wasn't a member of its group and that the Pastebin post was a fake. The first tweet said: "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?" while a subsequent tweet added: "Just saw the pastebin of the UK census hack. That wasn't us - don't believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first." So the mystery continues. Scotland Yard is still not officially saying whether or not the teenager they arrested was believed to be a member of LulzSec so we'll have to wait for an official statement from them. We'll keep our ears open and let you know as soon as we do.