- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LONDON (AP) - British police filed charges Wednesday against a teenager suspected of involvement in cyberattacks on the CIA website.

Ryan Cleary, 19, has been charged with five offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, police said.

One of the charges relates to bringing down the website of Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency _ the U.K.’s FBI equivalent _ using a flood of traffic, in what is known as a “distributed denial of service” attack.

Cleary is suspected of having ties to the Lulz Security hacking collective, which has recently targeted Sony, the CIA website and the U.S. Senate computer system.

British police had said Tuesday that a computer seized following Cleary’s arrest was being examined specifically for Sony data.

All of the charges announced Wednesday are U.K. related and it was not known if the FBI also planned to file charges.

Lulz, which has used its Twitter account as a platform to taunt victims and announce cyber coups, has dismissed speculation Cleary was involved in its operations.

The group said that while it had used Cleary’s servers, he was “at best, mildly associated with” Lulz.

Although little is known about Lulz, hacker collectives are typically loose networks with diffuse supporters in more than one location, so an arrest could do little to bring down an organization and even encourage supporters to carry on a group’s cause.

The charges against Cleary date to events as far back as Oct. 29 _ when the teenager is accused of attacking the website of the British Phonographic Industry. An attack on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry followed just one month later, police said.

The timing of those two attacks appears linked to a hacking operation dubbed “Operation Payback,” led by a group of hackers known as Anonymous, which targeted music sites worldwide.

Lulz and Anonymous recently teamed up, calling for a united hacker effort to attack any government or agency that “crosses their path.”

Cleary has been linked to Anonymous in the past. He appears to have had a rift with the powerful and shadowy group of hackers.

In what was called “retaliation” for leaking IP’s of Anonymous members online, someone with apparent links to the group posted Cleary’s personal details on various websites _ including his address, phone numbers, chat screen names and email addresses.

Those details were reposted in multiple places following news of Cleary’s arrest and suggestions the teen was tied to Lulz.

British police said he will appear in London court on Thursday to face the charges.


Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at https://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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