LulzSec spokesman arrest could incite more cyber attacks

Summary:Another leader at LulzSec has just been arrested, but will it help bring down the organization or just incite more cyber attacks?

Another leader at LulzSec has just been arrested, but will it help bring down the organization or just incite more cyber attacks?

Scotland Yard just arrested the LulzSec spokesperson in the Shetland Islands in the north of Scotland on Wednesday. His real name wasn't released, and the only details that were given was that this individual is 19 years old (which fits in with the average age of some of the LulzSec and Anonymous hackers arrested so far) and he goes by the pseudonym "Topiary."

Another 17-year-old male has been interrogated as well, but not arrested at this time.

LulzSec and Anonymous have both been on a rampage this year, with most of the security infiltrations scaling upward at global businesses and federal governments worldwide in the last few months. Most of the attacks were stringed together as part of the "AntiSec" hacktivist campaign. Although the pair of hacker groups announced their retirement of sorts a few weeks ago, they came back with a vengeance with an attack on Rupert Murdoch's The Sun following the News of the World scandal.

Most recently (today, in fact), Anonymous and LulzSec revealed their next target publicly: eBay's PayPal.

The reason? It's twisted. It came down to a retaliation as PayPal is withholding funds from WikiLeaks while the FBI rounds up members of Anonymous. Thus, not only are big businesses going to pay, but so are the little people who have nothing to do with this as these hackers start draining accounts to teach the FBI a lesson.

More arrests of top leaders in these groups could easily follow Topiary's own arrest today. However, the pattern of hack attacks is a rather downward spiral. Sometimes the attacks are motivated by more plausible activist reasons (such as the response to the News of the World incidents), but then others are just to strike back after one of their own gets apprehended.

For example, after three alleged members of Anonymous were arrested in Spain over the infamous and detrimental attack on Sony's PlayStation Network, the group retaliated with a hack job on the website of the Spanish national police force.

Thus, it is debatable as to what could happen next. The hacker groups themselves are rather volatile, as even LulzSec and Anonymous are more like frenemies than partners-in-crime. The former was a spin-off of the latter group. (Although they're definitely and literally partners-in-crime too, it wouldn't be surprising if their current alliance just collapsed one day.)

There is the possibility that if enough of the leaders are taken out, there won't be any direction about what to attack next and maybe they'll go back into a self-imposed retirement again. Or, even more likely, we'll see another attack in revenge of today's arrest.

Related:

Topics: Security

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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