Gardai raid home of computer whizzkid (15) suspected of hacking
A Dublin computer whizzkid aged just 15 is suspected of hacking into a UK business, accessing confidential data and demanding and receiving a "ransom" paid in bitcoins - the cryptocurrency.
The audacious digital "kidnap" of information by the teenager for a sum thought to be just hundreds of euro led to a major investigation by computer crime specialists on both sides of the Irish Sea last month.
The teenager was tracked down to his bedroom in a suburban house by detectives from the garda's Computer Crime Investigation Unit last month, according to sources.
Armed with a search warrant, detectives raided the house and seized the teenager's computers - much to the shock of his unsuspecting family.
The teenager is expected to be dealt with through the juvenile liaison scheme.
The attack was a classic "distributed denial of service" or DDOS attack.
Garda declined to comment on the raid. It is believed they were alerted after the UK firm contacted police.
Although few cases of suspected cyber crime involving teenagers have been investigated here, hacking activity by young computer buffs is thought to be far more widespread.
Parents are being warned about the rise of teenage hacking. Superintendent Alf Martin, who leads the Computer Crime Investigation Unit, declined to comment on the specific investigation.
However, he said it was important for parents to be aware of risks of teenagers straying into cyber crime.
"A lot of parents worry that teenagers are looking at inappropriate websites, but actually they are looking at ways of circumventing the defences that companies have built up. That's the real horror," he said. "It is about their standing and their status in that world.
"It consumes them. What they get up into that world, they would not do in their normal life. They think they are in a virtual world - and it is - until they start hacking, interfering with businesses," he added.
"The internet is a fantastic tool to millions of people around the world but with that global appeal comes great responsibility. It behoves major corporations who own and profit from it to work to make it a more secure and safe environment," he said.
"Law enforcement agencies have to be assisted to detect and prevent crimes online."
Teenage hacking has become a serious problem for police worldwide, and a costly one for companies.
Some of the biggest cyber attacks in recent times - such as those on PlayStation, Xbox and Talk Talk - have been linked to teenagers.