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U.K. Teen Arrested In Connection With Sony And Microsoft Hack

The 18-year-old was arrested in Southport, United Kingdom, for hacking PlayStation and Xbox on Christmas Day.

Posted on January 16, 2015, at 9:34 a.m. ET

The FBI and United Kingdom cybercrime units arrested a U.K. teen as part of an investigation on the PlayStation and Xbox hack on Christmas Day, the BBC reported.

Ebastien Berda / AFP / Getty Images

The 18-year-old was arrested in Southport, near Liverpool, England, on charges of providing false information to U.S. law enforcement agencies and for the denial of service attacks on the gaming networks that made it difficult for users to log on Dec. 25.

The teen, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized access to computer material, unauthorized access with intent to commit further offenses, and threats to kill, the U.K.'s South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) Cyber Crime Unit said in a statement Friday. The crime unit is also investigating a number of seized electronic and digital devices.

The joint investigation by the FBI and cybercrime units focused on the hack of the online game platforms, which overwhelmed Sony and Microsoft's servers with traffic forcing them out of service on one of the busiest days of the year.

The teen was also accused of "swatting," an alleged offense that involves U.S. law enforcement receiving hoax calls via Skype for a major incident in which SWAT teams are dispatched.

A hacking group called the Lizard Squad had claimed responsibility for the Sony and Microsoft attacks. This is one type of image the group uses to identify itself:

The group, which took credit for the August attacks on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, had warned of an attack on Christmas and called itself and its members the "next generation grinch."

Craig Jones, head of the Cyber Crime Unit at SEROCU, said in a statement, "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." He added that the investigation was in its early stages and that their unit would work closely with the FBI to identify the hackers.

The National Policing Lead for Cyber Security at the Association of Police Officers (ACPO), DCC Peter Goodman, called this "a significant arrest ... of a U.K. citizen suspected of engaging in serious and organized cyber crime on the national and international stage."

"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," Goodman said.