A British teenager has been arrested by officers investigating the Lulz Security (LulzSec) and Anonymous hacker groups, believed to be responsible for attacks on Sony, the U.S. Senate, the CIA, Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and News Corp.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit, working in co-operation with the FBI and Essex Police, arrested the 19-year-old man at a house in Wickford, Essex in a pre-planned intelligence-led operation Monday night.
CNBC has learned that the teenager arrested is Ryan Cleary, who last month was accused of stealing passwords and targeting network servers at a group of hackers called 'Anonymous' to which he used to belong.
He is currently being held in an unnamed central London police station and his computer is being examined. The teenager was arrested on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act offences.
Since early May, LulzSec has made a number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on government-backed websites such as the CIA and Soca. It has also targeted the databases of companies such as Sony, and claimed to have stolen personal information on more than one million users from the software company's database.
A police source told CNBC.com that the arrest was in connection with the LulzSec attacks and that it was "significant".
Earlier this week, LulzSec launched a new Anti-Security campaign, and said in a statement: "If you're aware of the corruption, expose it now, in the name of Anti-Security. Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including e-mail spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments."
The FBI has already expressed its concerns about the new wave of hacking. The release of confidential government documents through Wikileaks in the past couple of years has shown the potential for breaches of confidential information.
“These organisations have managed to use new technologies to connect to otherwise disenfranchised hackers to gather force and momentum in a way we have not seen before," Steven Chabinsky, FBI deputy assistant director, told the Financial Times on Friday.
Just last week, LulzSec said in a statement on its website: "We'll continue creating things that are exciting and new until we're brought to justice, which we might well be."
The agency responsible for the UK census said that there was a suggestion that it had also become a victim.
"We are aware of the suggestion that census data has been accessed. We are working with our security advisers and contractors to establish whether there is any substance to this," the Office for National Statistics, the UK agency which holds census data, said on Tuesday.
"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," it added.