Since suspected LulzSec member Ryan Cleary's arrest the hacker collective has been uncharacteristically quiet and moody, even going so far as to release the names and addresses of two hackers it suspects of leaking its private chat logs to the police.
The groups uncharacteristic sombre tone and vehement denial that Cleary had any real involvement with the group, has led many publications to speculate that the 19-year-old may be far more important than LulzSec would like us to believe.
London's Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit arrested 19-year-old Cleary for suspected involvement in a number of LulzSec's recent cyber attacks.
None of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation have revealed which specific attacks Cleary is being charged for. It is currently being speculated that the 19-year-old took part in the group's earlier attacks on Sony and the CIA -- none of this has yet been clarified.
Cleary's arrest was apparently the result of "a pre-planned intelligence-led operation" that was carried out by both the Metropolitan and Essex police forces, as well as the FBI.
Details about what evidence was discovered during the police's search of Cleary's Wickford, Essex address remain vague.
"Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material. These forensic examinations remain ongoing", read the police's statement.
The police have since confirmed that it is examining information found on Cleary's laptop.
Government and media witch hunt
Despite the lack of clear information, many publications have already begun speculating that the teenager may well be the "mastermind" behind LulzSec -- once again none of this is based on actual fact.
Chief among the publications leading the witch-hunt -- irrespective of Britain's innocent until proven guilty law -- was the Sun. The paper opened its "Essex geek 'is Sony hacker" article describing Cleary as an "oddball student" and "a heavy metal fan who has been thrown out of two schools for disruptive behaviour".
The paper's article managed to hit a nerve with LulzSec, which went on to tweet two messages regarding it:
"The Sun is the shittest UK publication in existence: http://t.co/D0FliTm How many times can you use "geek" and "nerd" in one article?"
Followed by, "If you don't kick, hit or throw some kind of sports-related object at least thirty-five times a week, you are a filthy recluse to The Sun."
LulzSec's comments and actions
Since Cleary's arrest LulzSec has publically denied Cleary's involvement in any of its attacks.
After Cleary's identity was revealed LulzSec issued a series of statements reiterating the 19-year-old's innocence:
"Clearly the UK police are so desperate to catch us that they've gone and arrested someone who is, at best, mildly associated with us. Lame."
Followed by, "Oh well - less tweet spam now. Best watch out, they can't get us, so they're going after people they think might know us. Defend yourselves."
LulzSec has since posted tweets claiming that the only connection Cleary had with the group was through certain chatrooms hosted on one of his IRC servers.
"Ryan Cleary is not part of LulzSec; we house one of our many legitimate chatrooms on his IRC server, but that's it.
"@superbus We use Ryan's server, we also use Efnet, 2600, Rizon and AnonOps IRC servers. That doesn't mean they're all part of our group."
LulzSec has shown an uncharacteristic interest in Cleary's arrest. This behaviour has by consequence peaked the medias' interest in the 19-year-old.
Many publications and security analysts have come to view the group's dogmatic insistence as a sign that the media's early unverified speculations may have hit a little closer to home than LulzSec cared to admit.
As a part of this, many have pointed to LulzSec's recent decision to post online data outlining the names and locations of two "snitch" hackers as evidence of the group's desperation.
The two hackers revealed in the post were both accused by LulzSec of leaking private conversation logs of the group's conversations to law enforcement agencies.
The statement opened, "This is Marshal Webb, also known as "[redacted]" in the "#pure-elite" IRC logs you no doubt have enjoyed. He was involved in the hacking of the game "Dues Ex" and was/is involved in countless other cybercrimes.
"Also, he tried to snitch on us. Therefore we just did your job for you with great ease.
"This moron is trying to flee the country in order to avoid serious punishment. Hunt him down".
Followed by, "This is also the name of one of his associates, Michael, or "Hann". He's also wanted for some pretty heavy stuff."
Is Cleary a LulzSec member?
Despite the lack of information regarding Cleary's arrest -- including what specific attacks he is suspected of involvement in -- many have already taken the attack to be a significant victory over LulzSec.
Yet, as is British law, Cleary is innocent until a judge brings down the hammer declaring him guilty. The youth may well have been "odd" as the sun claims -- though what this has to do with his case is unclear -- but as yet the police have not released any concrete information establishing his guilt.
For this reason, despite what many analysts and media outlets will tell you, it is quite simply too early to say whether Cleary is indeed a member -- let alone the leader -- of LulzSec.