By Tom Jowitt
British police have arrested dozens of suspect hackers as part of a "strike week" against cyber-crime.
According to the U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA), it has this week arrested 57 people in 25 separate operations.
The suspects are thought to be involved in different types of cyber-crime, including network intrusion and data theft from multinational companies and government agencies; distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks; cyber-enabled fraud; and malicious software and virus development.
The arrests took place across England, Scotland and Wales and involved officers from the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), Metropolitan Police and Regional Organised Crime Unit's (ROCUs).
The arrested suspects tend to be mostly in their twenties, but the youngest arrested is a 16-year-old male from the Pudsey area of Leeds. He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police for suspected Computer Misuse Act offences concerning the use of DDoS attacks believed to target approximately 350 Websites. He is reportedly connected to the Lizard Squad group.
The NCA also worked with the U.S. FBI and issued a production order on a hosting company in the East Midlands whose servers are suspected of being used to house suspected criminal infrastructure. A number of cease-and-desist orders have also been issued.
"These arrests around the country this week are a result of the essential partnership activity with law enforcement, industry and government that is at the heart of fighting cyber-crime," said Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit.
"Criminals need to realize that committing crime online will not make them anonymous to law enforcement," Archibald added. "We are continuously working to track down and apprehend those seeking to utilize computers for criminal ends, and to disrupt the technical networks and infrastructures supporting international cyber-crime."
"It's imperative that we continue to work with partners to pursue and disrupt the major crime groups targeting the U.K., but also, crucially, work to make sure that people have the knowledge and resources to make the U.K. as inhospitable as possible for cyber-criminals in the first place," he said.
The cyber-crime threat is widely recognized now in certain sectors, such as the banking and finance market, but the NCA warned last August that two in five British Internet users are putting themselves at risk by not protecting all of their devices with security software.
The National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) was officially launched as part of the National Crime Agency back in October 2013 to target cyber-criminals.
It comes after a report last year from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which said that the majority of police forces across the U.K. do not have a digital crimes unit capable of dealing with online events.