Chilean police arrested four suspected computer hackers accused of being part of an international group that has broken into thousands of government Web sites around the globe in recent years.
Police chief Gerardo Raventos said Monday that the group was responsible for "infiltrating" more than 8,000 sites, including some run by the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela.
Raventos said the suspects were members of an international hackers group he identified as the "Byond" hackers team, and had been under investigation for eight months with the cooperation of authorities in the United States, Israel and several South American countries.
One of the suspects, as he arrived at police headquarters, shouted to reporters that the group had acted "for fun."
That sentiment was echoed by Raventos, who said the suspects were apparently motivated primarily by mischief. "These people did not act seeking money, but just for fun," he said. "There is a big 'ego' element involved here."
He said they were caught "because they made some technical mistakes," but did not elaborate.
Raventos identified suspect Leonardo Hernandez, 23, as the Chilean hackers' leader. Hernandez was known in cyberspace as Nettoxic and is wanted in several countries, he added.
Another suspect was identified as Carlos Amigo, known online as SSH-2. The other two, twin brothers who were not named because they under 18, used the handles Codiux and Phnx, Raventos said.
An Internet search turned up a number of apparently hacked Web pages credited to those usernames, including an archived version of an attack last year on the Peruvian Judiciary's Web site during a tit-for-tat battle between Peruvian and Chilean hackers.
In December, computer hackers brought their two countries' historic rivalries into cyberspace, posting nationalistic claims to ocean territory, seafood and the Pisco grape brandy on government Web pages.
"We are not obscene. We fight for what is ours," read the page that temporarily replaced the Judiciary's. "The ocean and Pisco are Chilean!" There also were insults directed at a rival hacker group in Peru and Peruvians in general, reports AP.
The page was credited to Codiux, Phnx, SSH-2 and Nettoxic the "byond crew chilean defacers."
The four were arrested Monday in the capital of Santiago and the nearby cities of San Bernardo and Rancagua. Prosecutor Mario Schilling said they could be charged with "electronic sabotage" and face prison terms of up to five years.
A judge ordered Hernandez and Amigo held under jail until charges are filed, while the two minors were freed but were told to respond to a summons. The court gave prosecutors 90 days to file charges.
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