14 hackers arrested in PayPal cyber-attack
Attack was allegedly in protest at PayPal suspending Wikileaks accounts
Fourteen alleged hackers have been arrested in the United States for allegedly conducting a cyber-attack on the PayPal e-commerce website.
The cyber-attacks on PayPal's website were conducted by the hacker group Anonymous, and were supposed to be retaliation for suspension of the PayPal accounts of WikiLeaks. PayPal suspended the accounts following the release, by WikiLeaks in November last year, of thousands of classified US State Department cables.
Anonymous referred to the cyber-attacks on PayPal as ‘Operation Avenge Assange', according to unsealed federal indictment from the US District Court in San Jose, California.
Anonymous is sympathetic to WikiLeaks and has claimed responsibility for attacks against corporate and government websites worldwide.
The group has also claimed credit for disrupting the Visa and MasterCard websites in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
The 14 arrested in the PayPal attack were found in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio and were aged between 20 and 42. The accused have been charged with conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer.
In separate investigations, the FBI executed more than 35 search warrants around the USA in an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organisations.
As a result of the investigations, there were two arrests in the US unrelated to the attack on the PayPal payment service.
In the UK, a 16-year-old boy was arrested by Scotland Yard in south London, and there were four arrests by the Dutch National Police Agency for alleged cybercrimes.
The 16-year-old detained in London is thought to be connected to LulzSec, according to a UK official familiar with the investigation.