Dutch authorities issued a statement Thursday saying that a 16 year old boy has been taken into custody for involvement in attacks against the Web sites of Mastercard and Visa.
The boy, who was not named, was due to be arraigned by a judge in Rotterdam on Friday. The arrest is the first known action taken against online activists who have taken up arms against individuals and organizations that are perceived as acting against the whistle blower Web site Wikileaks following that site’s publication of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables leaked from the U.S. Government’s classified intelligence network.
According to the statement by the National Prosecutors Office (Google Translation in English) the boy is being interrogated and has admitted to involvement in attacks against MasterCard and Visa. However, his exact connection to Anonymous, an umbrella group of hackers, libertarians and online activists that has claimed responsibility for many of the denial of service attacks in defense of Wikileaks, is unclear. The statement by the National Office says only that he is “probably” and “presumably” part of a larger group that has also attacked Paypal and other sites. An investigation of that larger group is under way and computer hardware was seized in the arrest, the statement said.
Making that connection may be difficult. As reported by Threatpost and others, the denial of service attacks nominally carried out by Anonymous have enlisted a volunteer army of thousands of ordinary Internet users sympathetic to Wikileaks or angry at official backlash against the group by PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and others. These users may take part in an attack by downloading free denial of service software that allows their PC to be used to flood target Web sites with bogus traffic, but may have little or no operational knowledge of the attack.