Police Nab Three PlayStation Hackers in Spain

Last week at E3, Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton apologized for the recent high-profile electronic attacks on his company's PlayStation Network and pledged to move forward, putting the embarrassment of those attacks behind him. But this week, the attacks were in the news again, albeit for a more positive reason: Police in Spain report that they've arrested three individuals suspected of participating in the attacks.

The arrests happened in Almeria, Barcelona, and Valencia, Spain, on Friday. According to the Spanish authorities, the individuals are believed to be members of an online hacking cabal called Anonymous. Police believe they acted in concert, utilizing the hacking tool LOIC to perform a Denial of Service (DoS) attack on Sony's servers and break in to its PlayStation Network. Sony claims that the hackers stole 77 million user accounts in a series of attacks that it values at over $300 million.

Sony previously blamed the attacks on Anonymous, which subsequently claimed responsibility. The group is suspected of multiple attacks in recent months, with victims including MasterCard; governmental websites in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Turkey; and various banks. And now in the wake of the arrests, Spain's El Mundo newspaper reports that Anonymous launched a reprisal attack on the Spanish national police force's website on Saturday.

Police didn't release the suspects' names, but they're all in their early 30s, one is unemployed, and one is reportedly a sailor. The individuals were released on bail over the week to await trial, but police did confiscate a computer server that they believe was used in the Sony attacks, as well as the individuals' PCs. The three face a maximum sentence of just three years in prison if convicted.

Various reports have described the individuals as "core members" or leading hackers in Anonymous. But a spokesperson for the group said this was an exaggeration because Anonymous "has no core group" but instead has a loose, non-hierarchical structure.

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