UK man arrested on Facebook hacking charges

Details are sparse as the case is still under investigation by Scotland Yard and the FBI

A 26-year-old U.K. man was arrested Thursday on charges that he tried to hack into the Facebook social-networking site.

Details of the alleged crime, which is still under investigation, are sketchy, but Facebook said Friday that no user information had been stolen.

Facebook said it was working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and London's Metropolitan Police Service. "While no user data was [compromised], we have been working with Scotland Yard and the FBI, as we take any attempt to hack our internal systems extremely seriously," Facebook spokeswoman Sophy Tobias said in an e-mail message. "However, we have no further comment as this is an ongoing criminal investigation."

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the 26-year-old man had been arrested in North Yorkshire Thursday on "suspicion of computer hacking offenses," and was now released on bond. The spokesman declined to provide further details on the case. The FBI could not be reached for comment.

It's not clear what the motive for the attack may have been, but Facebook is an attractive target for hackers. Because the site connects people who know and trust each other, it is often targeted by scammers and hackers looking to trick users into clicking on links or installing malicious software. The site also contains a wealth of personal information that could be used in specially targeted spear-phishing attacks. Spear-phishing attacks involve specially crafted e-mail messages that are written to look like they come from someone the victim knows.

Google confirmed earlier this week that its Gmail service had been targeted by spear-phishing attacks launched out of China. The hackers behind the Gmail incident were trying to break into the accounts of government officials, contractors and activists.

With more than 500 million users, Facebook is the world's largest social-networking site.

News of the arrest was first reported on Twitter by Rob Preece, a reporter with the Yorkshire Post. Preece said he will have an article on the arrest in Saturday's paper.

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

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