22 Jun 2011

Police in Essex arrest teenage 'mastermind' behind worldwide hacking gang after attacks on CIA
19-year-old man is suspected of leading the notorious Lulz Security hacking group

LulzSec tweeted it did NOT hack into Britain's census information as one website claimed

By Rebecca Camber, Colin Fernandez and Lucy Collins

Last updated at 12:30 AM on 22nd June 2011

A British teenager is suspected of masterminding computer hacking attacks on the CIA, the U.S. Senate and Sony from his bedroom.

Ryan Cleary, 19, was arrested at his family's home in Essex in a dramatic swoop following a joint inquiry by Scotland Yard and the FBI.

He was held hours after the UK's serious crime unit came under online siege from the hacking group known as LulzSec.

Latest victim: Hacker group Lulz Security has brought down the website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The FBI and Scotland Yard yesterday arrested a 19-year-old man in Wickford, Essex, on suspicion of being the group's ringleader

Ryan Cleary, 19, who lives in this house in Wickford, Essex, is accused of being a 'major player' within LulzSec

LulzSec wasted no time in claiming responsibility for Monday's Soca attack on its Twitter page

The self-styled 'pirate ninjas' recently declared on Twitter their intention to break into government websites and banks and leak confidential documents.
On Monday the Serious and Organised Crime Agency - dubbed 'Britain's FBI' - was forced to temporarily take its website off-line after hackers bombarded it.

Ryan, a loner whose family says 'lives his life online', faces the prospect of extradition to the U.S where he could face 60 years' behind bars for allegedly hacking into the CIA and Senate websites.
Detectives believe he is a 'major player' with LulzSec, which has been linked to recent attacks on games firm Sony in which details and passwords of millions of users were accessed.

LulzSec has claimed its other victims include the NHS and Nintendo.

Ryan's mother Rita, 44, said her son suffers from agoraphobia and attention deficit disorder and had not left his bedroom for four years.
Earlier this year, the mother of two was fined £100 for allowing her older son to grow cannabis at their home after plants worth £4,300 were seized.

Mrs Cleary, who is on incapacity benefit, claimed her son needed the drugs to ease his epilepsy symptoms.
Speaking at the family's home in Wickford, she said Ryan was an introverted boy who 'lives his life online'.

She added: 'He has a history of mental problems. 'He left school at 15.

'He has stayed in his room for the last four years in front of his computer.

'He is bright, but does not have any social skills.'

The teenager attended Heath School, in Stanway, Colchester, a school for children with special needs, and is said to have constantly spoken in 'computer jargon'.

Police arrived at the house on Monday night and are said to have spent five hours talking to Ryan.

In his bedroom they found two computers with huge screens and an air conditioning unit to regulate the heat they generated.
Apart from a mass of computer data, his bedroom was like that of many teenage boys with photographs of scantily-clad women on the walls.

Ryan's brother Mitchell, 22, said: 'He is not the sort of person to do anything mad.

'He stays in his room - you will be lucky if he opens the blinds. I barely see him. I am more of a football person - he is more of an inside person.’

Another family member, who did not want to be identified, said: ‘He is a recluse and he never leaves the house.’

Neighbours said his father Neil is a musician who had played the tuba at the Royal Albert Hall, worked with names such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and played at a private function for Princess Diana.

Ryan was first 'outed' online as a member of LulzSec in May by members of the rival hacker group Anonymous.

Yesterday neighbours told of their shock at his arrest. One, James Rounce, said he presumed Ryan had been at university as he had not seen him for so long.

He said: ‘You could tell he was very bright just from the way he spoke and presented himself.

‘I knew he was into computers because we would often take in parcels for him and when I asked about them his mother said he was working from home and it was something to do with IT.’

Last night Ryan, who uses the online name ViraL, was being questioned in a police station in central London under the Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said it was liaising closely with the FBI, adding: 'The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions against international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.

'Searches at an address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material.'

The arrest of a Briton in relation to hacking attempts in the U.S. will prompt comparisons with Gary McKinnon.

McKinnon, 45, who is battling extradition to the U.S., faces 60 years behind bars for hacking into Pentagon and Nasa computers between February 2001 and March 2002 while searching for evidence of ‘little green men’.

Last night the LulzSec group sought to distance itself from Ryan.

On Twitter, the group said: 'Ryan Cleary is not part of LulzSec. We house one of our many legitimate chatrooms on his server, but that’s it.'
On the offensive: Lulz Security announced its operation to bring down high-profile websites on Twitter


Lulz Security's rise to prominence has been extraordinarily fast.

The hacking group first emerged in May and in the past few weeks has attacked the websites of some of the world's leading corporations and governments.

It is regularly abbreviated to LulzSec, which breaks down into two parts - Lulz refers to 'LOL' (laugh out loud), while Sec is short for security.

The group specialises in locating websites with poor security and then stealing information from them and posting it online.

The attacks do not appear to be financially motivated - instead, LulzSec seems content to receive international recognition for embarrassing some of the world's largest companies.

Not all the attention has been negative, either, as some cyber experts have praised LulzSec for exposing the inadequacy of online defences without maliciously exploiting these weaknesses.

The first LulzSec attack on record took place against the Fox.com website in late April - the hackers gained access to emails and passwords of hundreds of employees.

In a matter of weeks, the group has claimed responsibility for breaching the security of conglomerates including Nintendo, Sony, the NHS, the CIA and Soca.

SOURCE: Daily Mail


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