Police in Australia have arrested a self-proclaimed leader of the LulzSec hacking group for hacking and defacing a government website earlier this month.
Identifying the suspect only as a 24-year-old IT professional, police said on Wednesday that he was arrested in the coastal town of Point Clare, some 50 miles north of Sydney. Nevertheless, Australian media named him as Matthew Flannery, who allegedly used the online name "Aush0k."
The suspect has been charged with two counts of unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment, and one count of unauthorized access to restricted data. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
According to a police statement, the suspect used his position in an IT company to access sensitive information from clients, including government agencies. It added that the man was placed under investigation earlier this month when the Cyber Crime Operations team found a "compromise to a government website."
"Those thinking of engaging in such activities should be warned that hacking, creating or propagating malicious viruses or participating in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are not harmless fun," Cyber Crimes Commander Glen McEwen said in a statement.
LulzSec's name is derived from the text-messaging shorthand for 'laugh out loud' or 'lol.' The group generally attacks the targeted websites using the DDoS system, which involves crashing the website by flooding it with requests from computers under the attacker's control.
LulzSec is closely linked to 'Anonymous,' another hackers' group which came into prominence late last year after breaching websites belonging to several Internet services and online payment providers who cut their ties with whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, including MasterCard and PayPal.
The group has carried out several hacking attacks on a number of high-profile governmental and private websites in the United States as well as Britain, including that of the U.S. Senate, Sony, Nintendo and Fox News. Several members of the group have been arrested in the U.S. and Europe in recent months.
LulzSec suffered a major blow last year when its former de facto leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, known as "Sabu," was arrested in the United States. He later pleaded guilty to charges of computer hacking and conspiracy, and agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities in their investigations into the hacker groups.
by RTT Staff Writer
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