The U.K. is continuing to aggressively pursue so-called hacktivists, charging two men and arresting two more on Thursday who are allegedly connected with the groups Anonymous and Lulz Security.
The Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement released late Thursday night that the two men -- a 24-year-old and a 20-year-old -- are suspected of conducting distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks as well as hacking law enforcement and government websites. Both have been detained at police stations in South Yorkshire.
Police said the men are believed to have used the online identity "Kayla." In a lengthy interview with Forbes in March, a supposed female identified as "Kayla" portrayed herself as a 16-year-old who did not live in the U.K. but in an English-speaking country.
She was allegedly instrumental in the hacking attack in February against HBGary, a security company, which sought to expose Anonymous. In retaliation, Anonymous hacked the company's website and released more than 50,000 e-mails, exposing questionable business deals and causing HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr to resign.
Anonymous and a sister group Lulz Security have conducted stinging hacking and DDOS campaigns against private companies and government organizations whose policies they find offensive. For a time, Anonymous encouraged people to use an unsophisticated DDOS tool called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to conduct attacks, but security experts said people who used the tool could be easily traced.
The Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-Crime Unit said it worked with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the latest operation as well as law enforcement in other countries.
Earlier on Thursday, U.K. police said two other men were charged with computer-related offenses. Christopher Jan Weatherhead, 20, of Northampton, and Ashley Rhodes, 26, are scheduled to appear in Westminster Magistrates' Court next Wednesday. Both men were arrested on Jan. 27, according to a police spokesman on Friday.
A 17-year-old from Chester and Peter David Gibson, 22, of Hartlepool, will also appear that day in court. A 16-year-old who was arrested as part of the same investigation as been referred to the Surrey Youth Justice Board, police said.
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