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Man arrested in crackdown on pro-WikiLeaks DDoS spree

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Police in the UK have arrested a 22-year-old county Cleveland man in their investigation into web attacks waged by the Anonymous hacking collective against companies accused of retaliating against WikiLeaks, The Telegraph reports.

The unnamed suspect was questioned by specialist computer-crime detectives at a local police station last Wednesday, and was released on bail pending further inquiries. He was the sixth person to be arrested in UK authorities' investigation into “Operation Avenge Assange,” a coordinated assault on PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Amazon, and other companies that cut off services to WikiLeaks after the whistle-blower website published classified US diplomatic memos. The five others were arrested in late January.

Members of Anonymous engaged in the DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attacks using a modified piece of open source software that they dubbed the Low Orbit Ion Canon. The program is used to send a constant stream of data to targeted websites. When enough members use it on poorly secured sites, the sites become unreachable.

LOIC does nothing to anonymize the individual volunteers behind the attacks, meaning those using home or business internet connections are sitting ducks for authorities trying to crack down on the Anonymous operation.

In addition to the six UK suspects, authorities in the US have served at least 40 search warrants as part of their own investigation. Law enforcement officials in France and the Netherlands have also said they are chasing down leads in the attacks. ®

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