December 1, 2023

Spain Arrests 3 in PlayStation Cyberattacks

In a statement, the police said that with the arrests, they had dismantled the local leadership of the shadowy international network of computer hackers, called Anonymous, that has claimed responsibility for a wide variety of attacks.

According to the statement, Anonymous is made up of people from various countries organized into cells that share common goals. The activists operate anonymously, but in a coordinated fashion.

One of the “hacktivist” detainees, the police said, had harbored a computer server in an apartment in the northern port city of Gijon, from which the group attacked the Web sites of the Sony PlayStation online gaming store.

It also was used in coordinated cyberattacks against two Spanish banks, BBVA and Bankia, the Italian energy company Enel, as well as government sites in Spain, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand, the police said.

The police provided little information about the suspects.

It was not immediately clear if the group had been the sole, or even the main, perpetrator of the recent attacks on Sony. About a dozen Sony Web sites and services around the world have been hacked, with the biggest breaches forcing the Tokyo-based company to shut down its popular PlayStation Network for a month beginning in April.

The company has acknowledged that hackers compromised personal data for tens of millions of user accounts. Earlier this month, a separate hacker collective called Lulz Security said it had breached a Sony Pictures site and released vital source codes.

Sony has estimated that the hacker attacks will cost it at least 14 billion yen, or $173 million, in damages, including information technology spending, legal costs, lower sales and free offers to lure back customers.

Mami Imada, a Sony spokeswoman in Tokyo, said she had no information on the arrests and declined to comment.

The police said members of Anonymous made use of a computer program called LOIC to crash Web sites by flooding them with denial of service attacks.

The arrests follow an investigation that was begun last October, when hackers overwhelmed the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s Web site to protest Spanish legislation increasing punishments for illegal downloads.

Among recent attacks, the hackers also brought down the site of the Spanish National Electoral Commission last month before regional and municipal elections.

The movement against the anti-piracy law has been closely linked to the broader youth-led political movement that have occupied Puerta del Sol in Madrid and other city squares since May 15.

These protests have called for a complete overhaul of Spain’s political system — and the laws targeting illegal downloading.

Raphael Minder reported from Madrid. Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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