Did the Lapsus$ hack of Portugal's Impresa Group really come from the city of dreaming spires?

Lapsus$ hackers ‘caught’ after Portuguese cyber-mayhem

City of London police arrest seven youngsters

This story hasn’t made it into the Portuguese headlines today, which is surprising considering the headlines it generated earlier this year.

But it may be because the ‘scurrilous cyberhackers’ that caused such institutional mayhem appear to have been a bunch of teenagers.

According to the BBC today, a 16-year-old from Oxford (whose parents thought he was just playing computer games…) has been accused of being one of the leaders of the Lapsus$ gang – and has allegedly amassed a multimillion dollar/ pound/ euro fortune.

City of London police made their arrests as a result of tip-offs “by rival hackers and researchers”, says the BBC.

The rather comical aspect of this story comes in the affirmations by the boy’s father that: “We’re going to try to stop him from going on computers” from now on.

Correio da Manhã has carried this story on page 40 of today’s edition – in the section on ‘television and media’. Most readers will have missed it. But it is the stuff of spy thrillers. This Oxford teen is without doubt a hacking phenomenon.

The BBC says he is autistic (CM does not mention this). But his intrusions into networks were apparently “so fast that cybersecurity specialists initially thought they were dealing with an automatic programme”.

There was a novel recently about a child prodigy who helped the British Secret Services until one day he fell during a walk, hit his head – and lost whatever ‘brilliance’ it was that had made him such an asset.

In this case, we can but watch and wait.

The teen and his ‘mates’ have all for the time being ‘been released’, but are still said to be “under investigation”

The BBC describes “the prolific Lapsus$ hacker crew, which is believed to be based in South America” as “relatively new but has become one of the most talked-about and feared hacker cyber-crime gangs, after breaching major firms like Microsoft and then bragging about it online”.

“The teenager, who can’t be named for legal reasons, attends a special educational school in Oxford…” says cyber-reporter Joe Tidy.

Doxxed online

According to the BBC, the 16-year-old was ‘doxxed’ (outed) online after falling out with “apparent business partners” who told police that he had become affiliated with a wannabe ransomware group known as ‘Lapsus$’, who (sic) has been extorting & ‘hacking’ several organisations.”

This is technically dubious: Portugal’s experience with Lapsus$ was that it simply hacked in and then left everyone looking at the wreckage in despair.

There were no demands for ransom, nor were there any instances where personal data was ‘compromised’…

In other words, Lapsus$’ reputation may have run away with it: it could just be a gang of very cyber-savvy youngsters having fun. The ‘doxxing’ about millions made through ‘ransoms’ could be totally spurious.

Watch this space: meantime Lapsus$ Telegram ‘platform’ has reportedly told its followers that some of its members “are taking a holiday. We could be silent for some time. Thank you for understanding”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com