Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Spain says it has arrested Anonymous hackers

Spanish national police accuse three suspected members of the "hacktivist" group of allegedly targeting governments, banks, Sony, and other businesses.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Contributing editor Eric Mack covers space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
2 min read

Spanish police announce via Twitter that it has arrested threesuspected leaders of 'Anonymous,' who they say directed attacks fromwithin Spain. Policia Nacional/Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Authorities in Spain say they have arrested three suspected members of the "hacktivist" collective known as Anonymous, alleging that the trio took part in the now notorious hack of Sony's PlayStation Network as well as other infiltrations of governments, banks, and other businesses.

According to a translation of a press release from Spain's national police, it also seized a server used in the attacks from the home of one of the suspects. The suspects were picked up in the cities of Barcelona, Valencia, and Almeria. Police claim they represent the organization's leadership in Spain and that they directed attacks against the country's central election board, the Catalan police and the UGT, a major Spanish trade union.

Spanish police also claim to have evidence that the group went after a number of international targets from an apartment, including "...the Web sites of the Sony Playstation Store, BBVA, Bankia, ENEL and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand."

The investigation began last October after the site for the Spanish Ministry of Culture was hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in protest of Spanish legislation targeting illegal downloads. Police say their raids turned up software used to make malware and sophisticated encryption tools, as well as a program called LOIC, which the hackers used to carry out DDoS campaigns. Via their Twitter feed, police also posted the below screen capture from an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) room, which they claim shows the group's targets.

Click to enlarge. Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

In the past, the group has issued statements condemning the attacks on PlayStation Network, claiming that Anonymous is solely interested in attacking what it sees as corrupt governments and institutions. But some media reports have quoted members of the group who say there could have been connections between hackers who work with the amorphous collective and the attack on Sony. The opaque nature of Anonymous makes it difficult to tell who is truly involved, and at what level.

Before the arrests, the group had already been busy antagonizing its adversaries this week with a war of words between the hackers and NATO, in which Anonymous responded to a NATO report condemning the group with a warning:

Do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous...Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.

Friday morning it seemed Anonymous was experiencing a bit of turnabout. Anonnews, a site commonly used for communications by Anonymous, said that it was "currently experiencing heavy DDoS attacks combined with a spike in legitimate traffic. AnonNews is not available at this time due to these attacks." It also noted that the site "...was NOT hacked, it is simply down due to a DDoS attack."