Threat Management, Network Security, Threat Management

Alleged LulzSec leader charged with hacking Australian government site

The self-proclaimed leader of LulzSec, an offshoot of hacktivist group Anonymous, has been arrested by Australian police.

On Tuesday, 24-year-old Matthew Flannery, also known by the online moniker Aush0k, was arrested at his job in Sydney. He was later released on bail.

Flannery, a Point Clare resident, was charged with two counts of unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment and one count of unauthorized access to, or modification of, restricted data, according to reports.

Brad Marden, superintendent with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), told the Associated Press that earlier this month Flannery hacked into an Australian government website and defaced it. Marden did not confirm which website was hacked, but said it did not belong to a federal agency.

In an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News video, AFP Commander Glen McEwen said Flannery's arrest occurred less than two weeks after police first discovered the alleged hacking activity.

Flannery was “an IT professional employed in the industry” at an unnamed Sydney-based company, McEwen said, and his position gave him the access he needed to launch the attacks on a government site.

“The employer's company had no involvement or knowledge of this person's alleged activities and they were fully cooperative with police,” McEwen said. “This individual was operating from a position of trust, [and] had access to sensitive information from clients, including government agencies.”

Members of the LulzSec collective have been accused of cyber attacks against several high-profile targets during a three-month rampage in 2011, including the CIA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the U.K., as well as News International, Sony, Nintendo, the Arizona State Police and 20th Century Fox.

Last Thursday, Cody Kretsinger, a LulzSec member accused of hacking into the systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment, was sentenced to one year in prison, to be followed by home detention and 1,000 hours of community service.

Flannery is scheduled to appear for a court appearance May 15. He faces up to 22 years in prison.

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