LulzSec deny census database hack

An alleged member of the “hactivist” collective LulzSec was arrested by police in Essex today as part of an international investigation into a series of high profile cyber assaults on Sony, the US Senate and the CIA’s public homepage.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Central e-Crime Unit raided the home of Ryan Cleary, from Wickford, Essex as part of a “pre-planned intelligence operation” in collaboration with the FBI.

The arrest came on a day on confusion in which a blog post claimed that LulzSec had obtained a digital copy of Britain’s entire census database. The claim was quickly denied by both the Office of National Statistics and LulzSec through its official Twitter feed but it nonetheless sent the internet into apoplexies of speculation over what could have been the largest data breach in history.

Last month Anonymous - , another cyber protest group which shares an intense rivalry with LulzSec - published details of Mr Cleary online after claiming that he had fallen out with them. Anonymous claimed he tried to break into their encrypted chat rooms and they responded by posting a string of personal details online.

Sources say that Mr Cleary’s arrest on suspicion of computer misuse and fraud is not related to any activity with Anonymous and was instead sparked by international investigations into the recent hacking of websites run by Sony Pictures, the CIA and Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency. Over the past two months, LulzSec claims to have successfully disrupted or hacked all these sites.

In a statement the Metropolitan Police said the arrest followed an investigation into network intrusions and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks “against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.” Officers also found “a significant amount of material” and said forensic examinations were ongoing.

The arrest is one of the first times that an alleged LulzSec member has been arrested since it rode a wave of global publicity two months ago with a series of headline-grabbing hacks including the theft of hundreds of thousands of user details from Sony Pictures.

Posting anonymously self-proclaimed members of LulzSec were quick to play down speculation that Mr Cleary is one of their leaders. “Good news everybody,” wrote one. “Ryan has little to do with #LulzSec besides running [chat rooms]. All 6 members of @LulzSec are fine and safe.”

This afternoon the group responded to the arrest on their official Twitter account: “Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it's all over now... wait... we're all still here!” the group taunted.

Later postings also mocked claims that they had stolen census data. “Just saw the [claim] of the UK census hack,” one tweet read. “That wasn't us - don't believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first.”

Details of whether LulzSec have actually obtained a copy of the census dominated Twitter for much of the morning. The group usually announces hacks on its Twitter account and its own homepage. When using this method to announce successful attacks it has always delivered by eventually providing evidential details. Yesterday’s claim, however, was made in a blog posting on the PasteBin website and contained no proof.

“We have blissfully obtained records of every single citizen who gave their records to the security-illiterate UK government for the 2011 census,” the fake statement read. “We're keeping them under lock and key though... so don't worry about your privacy (...until we finish re-formatting them for release).”

Earlier Twitter postings from the group's official account did however suggest that LulzSec has been involved in a large operation to obtain sensitive data over the past 24 hours.

In one posting on Monday evening the group boasted that “Government hacking is taking place right now behind the scenes.” Another post 11 hours later thanked “supporters who have assisted in leaks". The last post from LulzSec then promised to reformat the data and post them on the popular file sharing website Pirate Bay.

In a statement the Office of National Statistics, which runs the census and contracted US defence firm Lockheed Martin to run security, said it had no evidence that census data had been stolen.

“We are aware of the suggestion that census data has been accessed,” the statement read. “We are working with our security advisers and contractors to establish whether there is any substance to this. The 2011 Census places the highest priority on maintaining the security of personal data. At this stage we have no evidence to suggest that any such compromise has occurred.”

Suggested Topics
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial