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UK organized crime unit arrests teen in PSN, XBL holiday outage investigation

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An 18-year-old man was arrested this morning in connection with the distributed denial of service attack that brought down the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live over the holidays and for alleged swatting offenses, according to a U.K. police organized crime unit.

The teen, whose name was not released, was arrested this morning in Southport on suspicion of unauthorized access to computer material contrary to section 1 of Computer Misuse Act 1990, unauthorized access with intent to commit further offenses contrary to section 2 of Computer Misuse Act 1990 and threats to kill contrary to Section 16 of Offenses against the person Act 1861.

Law enforcement in the U.K. do not identify people who have been arrested, Connie Primmer, press officer with the unit, told Polygon.

"In response to your question about Lizard Squad — we cannot comment on the specifics of the investigation," she added, declining to say whether the person arrested was a member of the self-described hacker group.

Investigators won't say if teen was member of Lizard Squad

Officers from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) Cyber Crime Unit, supported by Titan ROCU (North West Regional Organised Crime Unit) worked with the FBI and National Cyber Crime Unit on the investigation and arrest, which focused on the denial of service attack of Sony Playstation and Xbox systems in 2014 and swatting offenses, according to a press release.

A number of electronic and digital devices were seized to be examined by SEROCU's Cyber Crime Forensic and eForensics Unit, according to police.

"This investigation is a good example of joint law enforcement cooperation in relation to a type of criminality that is not restricted by any geographical boundaries," Craig Jones, head of the Cyber Crime Unit at SEROCU, said in a prepared statement. "We are still at the early stages of the investigation and there is still much work to be done. We will continue to work closely with the FBI to identify those to who commit offenses and hold them to account.

Jones added that the swatting incidents, which involve faking a 911 call from a person's house and making police believe there is a dangerous criminal activity going on there, were committed through Skype.

The group says it is working with businesses and academia to further develop specialist investigative capabilities to protect and reduce the risk to the public on these sorts of incidents.

"Cyber crime is an issue which has no boundaries and affects people on a local, regional and global level," Jones said. "I would like to urge everyone to check their home and business computer security and follow the advice available on sites such as cyberstreetwise.com and getsafeonline.org.


"Finally I would ask anyone who has information in regards to cyber offenses to report them to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or anonymously calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

DCC Peter Goodman, National Policing Lead for Cyber Security at the Association of Police Officers, called the day's arrest significant and said that the teen arrested was "engaging in serious and organized cyber crime on the national and international stage."

"The cyber crime investigative capability I am overseeing across the Regional Organised Crime Units increasingly allows policing to undertake such complex investigations as a networked specialist resource, and in collaboration with international law enforcement partners, as in this case the FBI," he said. "This arrest demonstrates that we will pursue those who commit crime with the false perception they are protected within their own homes or hiding behind anonymous online personas.

"As we continue to build capability and develop skills across wider policing, we still need industry, communities and individuals to protect themselves by implementing basic security measures whilst taking full advantage and enjoyment the opportunities the world wide web provides."

This is the second arrest made by U.K. law enforcement in connection with the holiday outage.

A self-professed member of the Lizard Squad was arrested in the last week of 2014 by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in England, according to the Thames Valley Police.

The Lizard Squad is a group of self-described hackers who since August have made a nuisance of and name for itself by taking down a variety of gaming networks, including Blizzard's, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. On Dec. 1, the group threatened to take down both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live over the holidays. They later claimed responsibility for both network outages, which stretched through Christmas.

That same week, Finnish investigators brought in a local teen suspected of being a member of the Lizard Squad for questioning in connection with an investigation into cyber attacks on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, according to Finland's National Bureau of Investigation.

Last night, FBI officials said there were no new updates in their investigation into the attack on the two gaming networks. We've reached back out to them this morning about this arrest and will update the story when they respond.