Brazilian government, energy company latest LulzSec victims

The website for energy giant Petrobras is among those knocked offline as LulzSec attacks continue

Websites belonging to the Brazilian government and energy giant Petrobras were knocked offline Wednesday in a series of cyberattacks.

The LulzSec hacking group credited its "Brazilian arm," for the attacks, which are the latest in a series of anti-government cyberassaults launched by the anarchic hacking group. LulzSec has also hit systems at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Senate, and the U.K.'s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

The Brazilian group behind the latest incidents, appears to be a new group of Portuguese speaking volunteers who have decided to hit Brazilian targets for political reasons. LulzSec has been calling on hackers and activists to launch an assault against government secrets, an operation it's termed Anti-Security,

Brazil's Secretary of Communications said Wednesday that the attack began at 12:30 a.m., local time and finished two-and-a-half hours later. Brazil's www.presidencia.gov.br and www.portalbrasil.gov.br websites were knocked offline as was the www.receita.fazenda.gov.br site, operated by the country's tax-collection agency.

After those attacks, the group trained its attack on the website of Petrobras, Latin America's largest energy producer. A company spokeswoman could not immediately comment on the incident. On its Twitter feed, the company reported a large number of attempts to access its website, Wednesday afternoon, but said that there was no damage.The www.petrobras.com.br website was unreachable Wednesday at noon, Pacific time.

Like the SOCA and CIA attacks, Wednesday's incidents were what's known as a distributed denial of service attack, in which a large number of hacked computers are directed at the victims' websites, essentially overwhelming them with useless requests and rendering them inoperable. It's not a new or sophisticated attack, but one that's proven reliable for the LulzSec crew.

One alleged LulzSec member was arrested Monday by U.K. police, but the group has said that the man was "at best, mildly associated with us." Still, his computers could help lead authorities to the group's masterminds who are thought to be seasoned hackers who have so far expertly dodged law enforcement's best efforts to catch them.

(Daniel dos Santos and Renato Rodrigues of IDG! Now in Brazil contributed to this report.)

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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Robert McMillan

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