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UK-wide police sting sees 56 people arrested on suspicion of committing cyber crimesReuters

Police forces across the UK have arrested 56 people on suspicion of computer hacking offences, following a week-long strike carried out by the National Crime Agency in partnership with the FBI.

Those arrested include a 23-year-old man from Sutton Coldfield who is believed to have been involved in breaking into the computer network of the US Department of Defence in 2014. The attack saw contact information for around 800 people stolen from the network.

A second person was arrested in Leeds for their suspected involvement with the Lizard Squad hacking group, the BBC reports. In January, an 18-year-old man was arrested in London on suspicion of carrying out cyber-attacks that crippled the PlayStation and Xbox Live networks in late 2014, for which responsibility was claimed by Lizard Squad.

Yahoo cyber attack

As part of the NCA's latest sting, a 21-year-old man was arrested in London on suspicion of being part of the D33Ds Company hacking collective, who are believed to have been behind a 2012 cyberattack on Yahoo, which saw the theft of more than 400,000 email addresses and passwords which were later published online.

The NCA's "strike week" saw 25 operations carried out across the UK and those arrested are suspected of being involved in a range of cybercrimes, including data theft, fraud and creating computer viruses.

Specialist officers from regional organised crime squads worked with the Metropolitan Police, the NCA and the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) to make the 56 arrests. The biggest operation took place in London and Essex and saw 25 people arrested on suspicion of using the internet to steal money, launder cash and carry out other frauds.

The arrests also related to alleged phishing gangs, intellectual property thieves, users of financial malware, and companies that offer hosting services to crime groups and people who take part in DDoS attacks, which knock websites offline by bombarding them with more traffic than their servers can handle.

In coordination with the sting operation, the NCA visited 70 firms to inform them about how vulnerable their servers were to cyberattacks. They were told how their servers could be used by hackers to send out spam or act as proxies for other attacks, masking the location of the hackers themselves.

Cybercrime has no boundaries

The NCA said how its week-long operation "illustrates that cybercrime has no national boundaries... we are not only targeting those who attack the UK public and businesses. The NCA has worked in collaboration with the FBI and DoD, Defence Criminal Investigations Service to investigate and pursue those in the UK who conduct their cyber criminality both nationally and internationally".

Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said: "Behind this week's activity is the message that all of us, as individuals businesses or law enforcement agencies, have a role to plan in making the UK a safe place to enjoy the huge opportunities provided by the internet."

He added: "We will continue to work with partners to pursue and disrupt the major crime groups targeting the UK, but also, crucially, to make the UK as difficult as possible a target for cybercriminals in the first place."