Spanish police on Friday reportedly arrested three alleged members of the hacker and activist group Anonymous on suspicion of taking part in online attacks against Sony's PlayStation network, as well as banks, businesses and government websites.
Police told reporters in Spain that the three "hacktivists," whose identities haven't yet been released, were involved in the April hacking of the PlayStation Network, according to a report from Reuters.
The attacks resulted in the online video gaming and entertainment service being suspended for more than a month before being relaunched by the Japanese tech giant recently.
Officials with Sony, which has also been dealing with attacks in recent weeks on its Sony Pictures and music websites from hackers including the group LulzSec, were unavailable for comment on Friday morning about the arrests.
The suspects -- who lived separately in the cities of Barcelona, Valencia and Almeria -- are also believed to have played a role in cyber-attacks on the Spanish banks Bankia and BBVA, as well as the Italian energy group Enel, Reuters said.
Spanish authorities have charged the three with "organizing cyber attacks against the websites of Sony Corp, banks and governments -- but not the recent massive hacking of PlayStation gamers," Reuters said.
Police in Spain, who had been investigating Anonymous' activities in that country since October of last year, also took possession of a computer that is believed to have been used in the hacks, according to a report from the BBC.
Anonymous, a group of online hackers that says it is made up of "online citizens" with no clear leader, generally launches Web attacks against companies or governments the hackers deem detrimental to society. As such, Anonymous has played a part in hacking government sites in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Iran.
The group has also been known for hacking the websites of banks, credit card companies and PayPal in retaliation for those companies not accepting donations made to the secret-document-publishing website WikiLeaks.
Sony has blamed the attack on its PlayStation Network partially on Anonymous, but the group has denied involvement, though it did say it is possible that individual members could have been involved on their own.
"They are structured in independent cells and make thousands of simultaneous attacks using infected 'zombie' computers worldwide," Spanish police told Reuters. "This is why NATO considers them a threat ... they are even capable of collapsing a country's administrative structure."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Sony Corp. has been under attack by hackers in recent months. Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters