A 17-year-old boy from Bergen on Norway’s west coast has been arrested and charged for a massive cyber attack earlier this week that crippled the websites of major banks, airlines, telecoms and finance firms. He had also impersonated the hacker group Anonymous Norway, claiming it was behind the attacks when it wasn’t.
The teenager, who in line with media policy in Norway hasn’t been identified, now admits he had pretended to represent Anonymous and contacted Norwegian media outlets to claim responsibility for the attack. His claims were launched the same day that websites for major banks including DNB, Nordea and Sparebank 1 and other large Norwegian companies like Telenor, NetCom, insurance firm Storebrand, and airlines Norwegian and SAS were knocked offline by what’s known as a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. He claimed that Anonymous wanted society to “wake up” to the security flaws that have allowed major cyber attacks, and that “nothing” was being done to prevent them.
Anonymous denied they had anything to do with the attacks on Tuesday that also spread to affect the country’s central bank, Norges Bank. DNB was among firms that reported the attacks to police, and an investigation led to the arrest on Thursday of the Bergen teenager. His defense attorney now says his client has admitted he was behind the attacks and apologized.
“He’s sorry for having caused all this and has laid his cards on the table,” lawyer Christian Børve, hired as defense attorney for the 17-year-old, told the website for newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT), bt.no.
Police said the boy initially has been charged with gross vandalism but that charges may be expanded. Frode Karlsen of the Bergen police said the punishment for such a crime is a prison term of up to six years. Since the teenager is legally still a minor in Norway with no prior police record, his punishment is likely to be much lighter, but Karlsen claimed police were taking the case very seriously. “This sort of attack can have huge costs for society,” Karlsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “They also, for example, can mean that folks can’t manage to reach emergency services if they need help.”
The boy’s attacks are considered to be among the most serious ever to hit Norwegian business, and his corporate victims were both alarmed and furious. It was another brutal “wake-up” call to the vulnerability of their systems, which they claim they’re working constantly to tighten and improve. “We view this case as extremely serious and are glad that the culprit has been arrested,” a spokesman for DNB, Vidar Korsberg Dalsbø, told NRK.
Karlsen said that after the boy was arrested, police raided his home and subjected him to questioning. “He is clarifying what he did and cooperating with police,” Karslen said.
Bergens Tidende reported the teenager had joined Anonymous’ Facebook group on Tuesday, the same day the cyber attacks occurred. Anonymous has distanced itself from the attacks and claimed they were laughing over the claims they had been involved.