TWO boys aged 16 and 17 have been arrested as part of an investigation into recordings made of conversations on Scotland Yard’s anti-terror hotline, which were posted on the internet.
The teenagers were being held in the West Midlands by officers from the Police Central e-Crime Unit on suspicion of offences under the Malicious Communications Act and the Computer Misuse Act.
Yesterday, an organisation called Team Poison claimed to have carried out a cyber-attack in response to the alleged detention of innocent people on terrorism charges and the recent ruling to deport a number of terror suspects to the United States.
The Daily Telegraph also understands that the group was angry at Government plans to introduce so-called snooping laws, allowing the authorities greater access to personal communications.
The group, which claims to have carried out a string of similar assaults on other organisations including Nato, launched a two day “phone bombing” exercise against the anti-terror hotline, jamming the network and preventing genuine callers from getting through.
It is understood Team Poison used readily available software to bombard the Scotland Yard phone line, but routed the activity through a computer server based in Malaysia in order to cover their tracks.
The hackers then claim to have exploited a “weakness” in the Scotland Yard’s phone system to eavesdrop and record a conversation between officials discussing the incident.
Recordings of the conversations were later posted on internet, suggesting an embarrassing lapse of security within Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit.
Last night the Metropolitan Police insisted that their phone security had not been breached the integrity of the confidential anti-terror hotline remained intact.
In one recording, an alleged hacker, who has an American accent, is heard goading one of the hotline operatives about the phone-bombing exercise.
The caller, who claimed to be called Robert West, told the official:
“I got some terrorism for you here …. our philosophy is pretty simple, it’s knowledge is power.”
More worryingly for the security services however is the question of how hackers apparently managed to record a conversation between two officials within Scotland Yard discussing the incident.
One operative is heard telling another that the anti-terror hotline had been inundated with hundreds of calls from the hacking group.
In a recording posted on the internet he is heard to say: “We have been subjected to a barrage of calls from a group called Team Poison.
We have had about 700 calls over the last couple of nights. One of the conversations I had last night was leaked on YouTube.
"Everyone else calling was effectively shut out and could not through at all."
It is not clear how the group managed to listen in to the conversation, but one theory is that the receiving handset was compromised during the phone-bombing exercise.
One member of Team Poison allegedly claimed to have used a well established system of phone hacking known as Phreaking.
He said: “It was very easy, they were using an old phone system which was vulnerable to a private phreaking method that we discovered.
He added: “The guys at the Counter Terrorist Command are clowns, whilst listening in on them, all they do is socialise and joke around with other employees. But to be honest, they are the real terrorists, imprisoning innocent people without evidence and invading countries for their own benefit.”
Explaining what had motivated the attack, the alleged hacker claimed it was in response to Britain’s treatment of terror suspects.
He said: “We done it due to the recent events where the counter terrorist command and the UK court system have allowed the extradition of Babar Ahmad, Adel Abdel Bary (sic) and a few others – we also done it to due the new "snooping" laws where the GCHQ can "spy" on anyone and everyone.”
He added: “Our members come from all over the world, we have no religion, no race, we are not affiliated with any other groups, we believe in equality for all & were anarchists.”
It is the second time in a matter of months that hackers have gained access to private telephone conversations involving Scotland Yard personnel.
In February hackers from the group known as Anonymous released a recording of a conference call between the FBI and UK police in which they were discussing efforts to catch hackers.
Last night, Ailsa Beaton, Director of Information for the Metropolitan Police said: “We are confident the MPS communication systems have not been breached and remain, as they always have been, secure.
"We are satisfied that any recording would have been made via the receiving handset only and not from an attack on internal systems.
The public can remain confident in the ability to communicate in confidence and that the integrity of the Anti-Terrorist Hotline remains in place."