WASHINGTON — Fourteen people were arrested Tuesday for allegedly mounting a cyberattack on the website of PayPal in retaliation for its suspending the accounts of WikiLeaks.
Separately, FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants around the country in an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyberattacks against major companies and organizations.
As part of the effort, there were two arrests in the United States unrelated to the attack on the PayPal payment service. Overseas, one person was arrested by Scotland Yard in Britain, and there were four arrests by the Dutch National Police Agency, all for alleged cybercrimes.
In one case unrelated to PayPal and filed in New Jersey, a customer support contractor was charged with stealing confidential business information on AT&T's servers. The data was posted on a public file sharing site, and defendant Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was accused of exceeding his authorized access to AT&T's servers in downloading thousands of documents and applications.
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According to court papers, the documents the contractor uploaded were the same ones publicized last month by the computer hacking group Lulz Security, or LulzSec, which said it had obtained confidential AT&T documents and made them publicly available on the Internet.
The 16-year-old detained in England is thought to be connected to LulzSec, according to a U.K. official familiar with the investigation. The official spoke on condition that his position not be disclosed because he wasn't authorized to release the information.
A hacker with LulzSec did not immediately return a message seeking comment early today.
The cyberattacks on PayPal's website by the group called Anonymous followed the release by WikiLeaks in November of thousands of classified State Department cables.
Anonymous is a loosely organized group of hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks. It has claimed responsibility for attacks against corporate and government websites worldwide.
The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
A federal indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., says that Anonymous referred to the cyberattacks on PayPal as "Operation Avenge Assange."
LulzSec, a spin-off group of Anonymous, has taken responsibility for attacks on Fox News and PBS, entertainment companies, including Sony and Nintendo, as well as local chapters of InfraGard and Arizona law enforcement.