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6/22/2011
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LulzSec Takes Hit, Keeps On Hacking

British authorities charge teenager with launching DDoS attack, and anti-LulzSec group says it's tracing identities of the hacking group's members.

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The hacking group known as LulzSec shows no signs of slowing down. Early on Wednesday, the group announced that it had taken offline Brazil's official government website, as well as the Brazilian president's website. As of Wednesday afternoon, both sites still appeared to be unreachable.

LulzSec's activities and taunts come despite the arrest of a 19-year-old hacking suspect on Tuesday, outside London, who was reportedly involved in the group. "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?" said LulzSec via Twitter.

LulzSec said the person arrested by British police, named by authorities on Wednesday as Ryan Cleary, ran a server on which one of LulzSec's many chat rooms had been hosted. "Clearly the UK police are so desperate to catch us that they've gone and arrested someone who is, at best, mildly associated with us. Lame," said the group via Twitter.

On Wednesday, British police charged Cleary on multiple counts, including an October 2010 distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the British Phonographic Industry website, and Monday's botnet-driven DDoS attack against the UK's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) website. That attack occurred under the #AntiSec banner, which is a LulzSec's joint operation with Anonymous.

In the United States, meanwhile, an unnamed government official told The New York Times that a Tuesday raid against a data center in Reston, Va., run by DigitalOne, was in pursuit of information related to LulzSec and its affiliates, although the company whose information was targeted wasn't named. In the raid, FBI agents apparently seized hardware running multiple, hosted websites, knocking the others--not targeted in the investigation--offline.

Sergej Ostroumow, DigitalOne's chief executive, said in an email to customers that "tens of clients" had been affected, saying that "after F.B.I.'s unprofessional 'work' we can not restart our own servers, that's why our Web site is offline and support doesn't work." The company, which leases space from the data center's operator and had no employees onsite, hoped to bring the offline sites back up by Wednesday.

The FBI wasn't available for immediate comment.

If authorities are closing in on LulzSec, the group doesn't appear to be backing off. On Wednesday, the group released, via Pastebin, contact information for what it said were two people who tried to snitch on LulzSec by "leaking some of our affiliates' logs." LulzSec alleged that the two people--named as Marshal Webb and Michael Dean Major--had orchestrated last month's hack and defacement of the Eidos Montreal website. In that attack, hackers reportedly stole information on at least 80,000 users of the company's Deus Ex: Human Revolution game.

LulzSec also warned that there had been a rash of Pastebin posts purposing to be from the group, such as the announcement that LulzSec planned to release a complete copy of the U.K. 2011 census data. "That wasn't us--don't believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first," the group said via its Twitter feed.

Are law enforcement agencies close to unmasking LulzSec? While British police did bust Cleary, aka "ViraL," he had already been publicly named--in anonymous Pastebin posts released last month--as someone who interacted with LulzSec members via IRC. Some posts also alleged that he was a "4chan DDoS attacker," referring to the freewheeling 4chan forum and imageboard in which all members are supposed to be anonymous.

Cleary was also mentioned in multiple tweets earlier this month from Twitter user Power2All. Those messages warned LulzSec via Twitter to "avoid and ignore lulzco IRC net, your IP will be compromised by Ryan Cleary." According to Power2All, Cleary's server logged IP addresses and leaked them to the Internet.

In the wake of Tuesday's arrest of Cleary, a post on the anti-LulzSec blog "LulzSec Exposed" also said that Cleary was "just an IRC operator" for LulzSec, and that the group's leader went by the handle of Sabu. It also said that the arrest of Cleary would give law enforcement agencies a leg up on LulzSec. "Bad news for LulzSec, count your days as we count your heads," said a blog post on LulzSec Exposed. "As Ryan is arrested, your IRC irc.lulzco.org logs are with FBI, SOCA and Interpol."

The group also alleged that LulzSec members, having been exposed, were starting to flee, and that the group's joint operations with Anonymous are a ploy to keep the LulzSec brand going. "They also want to keep the legacy of Lulzsec even after their arrests by recruiting new people ... to continue it and create havoc among security companies."

Also on Wednesday, LulzSec Exposed named Power2All, the admin for the Anonymous IRC channel (Anonops), as Netherlands-based PHP programmer Jasper Lingers. But a message via the Power2All Twitter feed fired back, "I am not lulzsec, neither anonymous. AnonOps is a platform to chat on ... Nothing illegal about a chat server."

In the new, all-digital Dark Reading supplement: What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in this issue: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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