Spain Nabs Alleged ‘Anonymous’ PlayStation Network Hackers

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The hackers behind recent attacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network may be less anonymous than they’d hoped. The New York Times is reporting that police in Spain say they’ve nabbed three individuals allegedly involved in recent hack-intrusions against Sony’s PSN (among other cyber-iniquities). The three were arrested independently in the Spanish cities of Almeria, Barcelona and Valencia.

(More on TIME.com: ‘Anonymous’ Warns NATO: ‘This Is No Longer Your World’)

Remember Anonymous? The group that claims it went after Sony in retaliation for Sony’s lawsuit against hacker George Hotz? Who then denied having anything to do with the massive informational heist that prompted Sony to shutter its PlayStation Network and Qriocity services for over three weeks? The ones who’ve also claimed credit for numerous other attacks, including against various international institutions that cut off funding to Wikileaks?

(More on TIME.com: Operation Payback: Who Are the WikiLeaks ‘Hactivists’?)

According to Spain’s National Police, the three suspects are leaders within the local (Spanish) iteration of Anonymous. The SNP also claim a computer discovered in one of the suspects’ homes was directly involved in launching attacks against websites that include Sony’s PlayStation Store, two Spanish banks, an Italian energy company, and government websites in Egypt, Iran, Libya, New Zealand and others. And the Wall Street Journal reports the SNP claim to have found evidence of high-level encryption techniques used to mask online identities.

The Spanish police statement describes Anonymous as a group organized into cells and distributed across multiple countries, working in tandem to achieve similar goals. The BBC reports the investigation began in October 2010, and that it involved "Spanish cyber police" who pored over "millions of lines of chat logs" to identify the perps.

(More on TIME.com: Hackers Who Hit Sony Last Week Hit Sony Again This Week)

Next up? It’s not clear from reports whether the three suspects are still being held or if they’ve been released, and if the latter, under what restrictions. Assuming the SNP’s allegations are accurate and they’ve indeed nabbed senior Anonymous members, it’s anyone’s guess what the hacktivist group might do in response. Anonymous tends to be reactive—it answers rather than instigates—and reacting to a major government crackdown, to somehow establish that it remains operationally "unfazed," seems all but inevitable.

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