Brazen hacker group LulzSec says it’s disbanding

NEW YORK (AP) — A publicity-seeking hacker group that has left a trail of sabotaged websites over the last two months, including attacks on law enforcement and releases of private data, said unexpectedly on Saturday it is dissolving itself.

Lulz Security made its announcement through its Twitter account. It gave no reason for the disbandment, but it could be a sign of nerves in the face of law enforcement investigations. Rival hackers have also joined in the hunt, releasing information they say could point to the identities of the six-member group.

One of the group’s members was interviewed by The Associated Press on Friday, and gave no indication that its work was ending. LulzSec claimed hacks on major entertainment companies, FBI partner organizations, the CIA, the U.S. Senate and a pornography website.

Kevin Mitnick, a security consultant and former hacker, said the group had probably concluded that the more they kept up their activities, the greater the chance that one of them would make some mistake that would enable authorities to catch them. They’ve inspired copycat groups around the globe, he noted, which means similar attacks are likely to continue even without LulzSec.

“They can sit back and watch the mayhem and not risk being captured,” Mitnick said.

As a parting shot, LulzSec released a grab-bag of documents and login information apparently gleaned from gaming websites and corporate servers. The largest group of documents — 338 files — appears to be internal documents from AT&T Inc., detailing its buildout of a new wireless broadband network in the U.S. The network is set to go live this summer. A spokesman for the phone company could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the documents.

In the Friday interview, the LulzSec member said the group was sitting on at least 5 gigabytes of government and law enforcement data from across the world, which it planned to release in the next three weeks. Saturday’s release was less than a tenth of that size.

In an unusual strategy for a hacker group, LulzSec has sought publicity and conducted a conversation with the public through its Twitter account. Observers believe it’s an offshoot of Anonymous, a larger, more loosely organized group that attempts to mobilize hackers for attacks on targets it considers immoral, like oppressive Middle Eastern governments and opponents of the document-distribution site WikiLeaks. LulzSec, on the other hand, attacked anyone they could for “the lulz,” which is Internet jargon for “laughs.”

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