Dutch Hacker, 16, Arrested for WikiLeaks-Related Cyberattacks

Members of the online group Anonymous have taken credit for cyberattacks on Mastercard and PayPal in revenge, they say, for going against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Their actions are illegal in many countries.

(CBS/AP) For the first time, a member of the online, Wikileaks-defending group Anonymous has shed their anonymity, at least as far as Dutch prosecutors are concerned.

Prosecutors in the Netherlands announced Thursday that they arrested a 16-year-old boy suspected of involvement in digital attacks that made it difficult to access several prominent financial payment websites earlier this week, the Associated Press reports.

This is the first known arrest in the cyberwar raging around WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

In a statement, the national prosecutors' office says the youth is believed to have participated in attacks by WikiLeaks supporters on websites "including MasterCard and Paypal, among others."

The statement Thursday said the youth was arrested in The Hague, Netherlands. His name was not released.

It was not clear whether he was believed to have played an important role in the attacks, which flooded the websites with traffic.

These websites were attacked through a coordinated operation called a "distributed denial-of-service" (DDoS.) There is explicit legislation in many European countries and America making DDoS attacks illegal. According to IT security expert Graham Cluley, just last month, 23-year-old Mitchell L. Frost, of Bellevue, Ohio, was given a 30 month prison sentence for a series of DDoS attacks he launched against the websites of high profile US right-wingers Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Rudy Giuliani.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.