The FBI has accused a county councillor’s son of tapping into a conference call the agency had with the garda fraud squad as it investigated an international hacking ring.
Donncha O‘Cearrbhail, whose online name is palladium, faces up to 15 years jail if found guilty of recording the transatlantic briefing on investigations into the Anonymous outfit and cyber crime.
The 19-year-old student was one of two men arrested last September after the Fine Gael website was shut down following a denial of service attack in January 2011.
A second student, Darren Martyn, 25, from Galway, with the hacker name pwnsauce, has also been named on the charge sheet published by the US Attorney’s office.
According to the document released by Manhattan federal court in New York, he is facing two counts of computer hacking conspiracy.
In court papers the FBI alleges the students identified themselves as members of hacking collectives Anonymous, InternetFeds, LulzSec and AntiSec and were involved in the attack on the Fine Gael website.
O‘Cearrbhail, from Birr, Co Offaly, is also accused of hacking a Garda officer’s personal email in January this year. He is suspected of reading emails with details on how to access a conference call involving the FBI, gardaí and other law enforcement agencies on January 17.
The briefing had been lined up to update officers on international investigations into hackers linked to Anonymous and other groups.
O‘Cearrbhail is accused of secretly accessing and recording the call and passing the recording on to others. He was arrested by the fraud squad in south Dublin and was being held for 24 hours in Terenure garda station.
The FBI spearheaded international investigations into the hacking outfits after Fox Broadcasting Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Public Broadcasting Service were hacked and spin-offs of the Anonymous group began to form.
Data from 70,000 would-be X Factor contestants in the US was taken in one of the security breaches.
Anonymous has also been accused of denial of service attacks on Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, reportedly in retaliation for their refusal to process donations to Wikileaks.
Government computer systems, including those of the CIA and FBI, have also been hacked.
The Irish students are two of six people, including two men in Britain, listed on the charge sheet following the transatlantic hacking investigations.
It is the second time O‘Cearrbhail has been arrested over the Fine Gael cyber attack.
His father John Carroll, an independent councillor on Offaly County Council, declined to comment on his son’s arrest.
Martyn, along with three others who have been charged over the international hacking ring, are accused of forming the Lulz Security or LulzSec hacking outfit.