Man suspected of hacking U.S. military satellite data arrested in UK

Story highlights

  • The 23-year-old man was one of dozens arrested in similar operations around Britain
  • After the hack, he allegedly wrote online, "We're in your bases, we control your satellites"
  • No sensitive or confidential data was compromised in the hack, a British agency says

(CNN)British law enforcement officers have arrested a 23-year-old man suspected of hacking the U.S. Department of Defense and swiping data from a satellite-based system used by the military to communicate with people worldwide, UK authorities said Friday.

This arrest was one of 56 made this week in 20 separate operations conducted by regional organized crime units, Metropolitan Police officers and others. The others caught range from a family of suspected fraudsters and a 16-year-old believed to be behind hundreds of cyberattacks, according to Britain's National Crime Agency.
    Yet the arrest that the agency highlighted most was the one that targeted the world's most powerful last June 15.
    On that date, someone hacked into the U.S. Department of Defense's servers and got data related to its "Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services" system. This included contact information -- including their names, emails and phone numbers -- of about 800 people and info on approximately 34,400 devices, the National Crime Agency reports.
    None of the hacked material was considered confidential, nor did it apparently include "sensitive data" or anything that "compromises U.S. national security interests," the British agency said.
    Still, the person responsible for the hack cryptically played it up big in a post to Pastebin, a website that allows for anonymous posts.
    Alongside screenshots of the dashboard used to control the Defense Department database, the hacker wrote, "We smite the Lizards, LizardSquad your time is near" in apparent reference to a notorious band of black-hat hackers.
    "We're in your bases, we control your satellites," the hacker adds. "The missiles shall rein (sic) upon they who claim alliance, watch your heads... We're one, we're many, we lurk in the dark, we're everywhere and anywhere."
    The 23-year-old suspected hacker was not identified by name, with the UK National Crime Agency saying only that he was arrested Wednesday morning in Sutton Coldfield,a Birmingham suburb in the West Midlands region.
    The U.S. military has been targeted by hackers before. Some of those actions have been blamed on ISIS sympathizers, like the January temporary takeover of the U.S. Central Command's Twitter account and YouTube page. And last year, U.S. federal officials accused four men of hacking into computer networks of the U.S. military and Microsoft and stealing more than $100 million worth of software, some it related to the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."
    There's no indication that the June hack had anything to do with ISIS or involved the theft of anything of much monetary value. Still, hacks from groups such as Lizard Squad and Anonymous can have a significant impact.
    Jeffrey Thorpe, special agent in charge with the U.S. Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), said in the UK government statement that "this arrest underscores DCIS commitment and the joint ongoing efforts among international law enforcement to stop cyber criminals in their tracks."
    "DCIS special agents will use every tool at their disposal to pursue and bring to justice those who attack the Department of Defense," Thorpe said.