Sony executives are likely to sleep a little better this weekend. A British man was arrested Friday in connection with the Christmas Day attack on the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live network that took both gaming networks offline for days and infuriated millions of gamers. The hacker collective known as Lizard Squad took responsibility for both attacks.
Police in the U.K. have not yet released the suspect’s name, saying only that they have arrested an 18-year-old man living in northwest England for both attacks, along with multiple "swatting" offenses and making death threats. Swatting refers to the practice of reporting a false crime to authorities, hoping they will react by sending a SWAT team to the target’s location.
World’s Most Notorious Hacker
The arrest was made by the U.K.’s South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) Cyber Crime Unit, in cooperation with the FBI. Several electronic and digital devices were seized as part of the arrest, according to police.
“We are still at the early stages of the investigation and there is still much work to be done,” Craig Jones, Head of the Cyber Crime Unit at SEROCU, said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the FBI to identify those to who commit offenses and hold them to account.”
The arrest is not the first to be made in connection with Lizard Squad, however. Another British man, 22-year-old Vinnie Omari, was also arrested in December in connection with the group, although Omari was later released from custody without charge.
Lizard Squad is one of the most notorious hacker or hackers in recent memory. Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for a number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, live-streaming Web site Twitch, and Blizzard’s Battle.net. It also defaced the Vatican’s Web site earlier last year.
But Lizard Squad seemed to have a particular problem with Sony. In addition to the DDoS attacks, Lizard Squad also succeeded in causing a flight carrying John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, to be delayed by claiming on Twitter that someone had planted explosives on board. The group also broke into the company’s servers and uploaded a picture of the ISIS flag, although Lizard Squad is not believed to be involved in the Islamist militant group.
Some online security experts have also linked Lizard Squad to the Guardians of Peace, the group of hackers responsible for Sony’s other major security breach in December, resulting in the theft of massive amounts of data from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The data included digital copies of unreleased movies, confidential e-mail correspondences, and other sensitive data. However, the FBI has asserted that the North Korean military is behind the Guardians of Peace.
Recently, Lizard Squad appeared to be branching out from cyber-vandalism, as the group sought to cash in on its notoriety. The hacker offered to provide a toolkit, known as “Lizard Stresser,” to other attackers for as little as $5.95 a month.