Things are getting serious for the troublemaking hackers of Lulz Security. Just as the group was preparing to launch the first batch of data it gleaned from its crowd-sourced hacktivist project called Operation Anti-Security, British police announced one member had been arrested in Essex, U.K. According to The Guardian, the British Metropolitan Police worked with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to arrest one 19-year-old in the county just northeast of London.
But LulzSec doesn't seem to think the arrestee was part of its team, at least according to its Twitter: "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?" The answer to that, according to The Hacker News, is that the cops picked up a teenager named Ryan Cleary, who goes by viraL online. In May, the hacking group Anonymous claimed Cleary had compromised two of its chat networks, and published Cleary's contact information. Today, Anonymous tweeted "The good news everybody: Ryan has little to do with #LulzSec besides running IRC. All 6 members of @LulzSec are fine and safe."
LulzSec first grabbed headlines at the end of May, when it hacked the PBS Web site, reportedly in protest of the network's portrayal of Wikileaks in a Frontline documentary. Since then, LulzSec has gone after a number of targets, ranging from online gaming sites to Sony to the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Senate, and an affiliate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. All this seemed fairly random, mischievous acts perpetrated just to cause trouble -- in fact, last week the group even set up a request line for people to call and suggest targets. But on Friday, LulzSec issued a manifesto saying its purpose was to demonstrate security flaws in these high-profile sites. Yesterday, the group declared the start of Operation Anti-Security, a call to arms for all hackers to exploit security weaknesses in the name of transparency. The same day, the group claimed a shutdown of the British Serious Organized Crime Agency, and suggested on Twitter that it was planning a major information release.
Suddenly the hackers who were in it "for the lulz" have become a heavyweight force in international computer security circles. And while the information they've released so far consists largely of Sony's source code and a whole slew of user names and passwords for various sites, their recent seriousness and a comparison of themselves to Wikileaks suggest they mean to keep sailing their "Lulz Boat" into more and more troubled waters.