Authorities in Spain have arrested three people believed to be members of the vigilante hacker collective known as Anonymous.
Police have charged the trio with taking part in attacks against Sony, as well as governments, banks and businesses around the world.
According to a news release issued Friday by the Spanish National Police, authorities also seized a server, believed to have been used in the attacks, from the home of one of the suspects.
The three were arrested in Barcelona, Valencia and Almeria following an eight-month investigation by the Technological and Investigation Brigade of the Spanish National Police. None of the suspects have been named.
Anonymous has promised revenge. On its blog Friday, the group posted a message for Spain, which included an image from the movie V for Vendetta and two words: “Expect US.”
Spanish authorities said the trio coordinated and led Anonymous' activities in that country, including attacks against the websites of Spain's Ministry of Culture; Central Electoral Board; Bankia, the country's largest savings bank; BBVA, the second-biggest bank in Spain; and ENEL, the owner of Spanish power company Endesa. Police said the suspects also carried out attacks against the websites of Sony's PlayStation Store and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Lybia, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand.
The investigation was launched in October 2010 following a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against the Culture Ministry website, launched to protest a law that would permit the ministry to ask ISPs to block sites offering alleged illegal downloads.
As part of the investigation, Spanish authorities analyzed more than two million lines of chat logs and web pages to zero in on the suspects.
The hackers allegedly launched the DDoS attacks using a program called Low Orbit Ion Cannon, which allowed them to flood a website with requests for information until its server crashed.
Anonymous, which consists of vigilante hackers around the world, late last year took credit for launching DDoS attacks against anti-WikiLeaks' websites, such as MasterCard and PayPal. The group also in recent months has admitted to attacking security firm HBGary to expose shady practices, and the hate-spewing Westboro Baptist Church.
The unofficial spokesman for Anonymous last month shot down an implication by Sony that the collective was responsible for the PlayStation Network breach, which compromised the personal information of some 77 million users.
Anonymous has also recently taken issue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the global partnership released a report calling Anonymous a threat to "government and the people." The collective, in a public response to the report, warned NATO: "Do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous.”