Law enforcement in the U.K. arrested an 18-year-old man outside of Liverpool, England in connection with the Christmas DDoS attacks on Sony and Microsoft’s gaming servers, according to the BBC. He has been accused of unauthorized access to computers and knowingly providing false information to U.S. law enforcement agencies. The investigation was a joint operation between the FBI and multiple British law enforcement agencies for both organized and cyber crime.
Both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live gaming services went down on Christmas day 2014, under distributed-denial-of-service attacks, (DDoS) crippling servers for a few days. The hacker group Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks, describing them after the fact as advertising for “Lizard Stresser,” a for-hire DDoS service for taking down websites by overwhelming them with artificial traffic.
Craig Jones, head of one of the involved British cyber crime units, emphasized that the investigation is ongoing: “We are still at the early stages of the investigation and there is still much work to be done. We will continue to work closely with the FBI to identify those who commit offences and hold them to account.”
The arrested man is being charged specifically for “swatting,” the practice of calling in erroneous crimes to law enforcement so that misinformed SWAT teams are sent out to harass innocent targets. The practice has become an unfortunate trend in the gaming community over the last few years as an extremely disruptive form of trolling. The press release makes explicit accusations about swatting and the December DDoS attacks, though gives no official indication of the man’s connection to Lizard Squad.