Friday, Spain police reportedly arrested three alleged members of the hacktivist group Anonymous, a high-profile hacker group, for allegedly taking part in online attacks against Sony's PlayStation Network, as well as other infiltrations of banks, businesses and government websites.

According to Spain's national police, it also seized a server used in the attacks from the home of one of the suspects. 

The suspects, whom the Police identified as the local leadership, were found separately in the cities of Barcelona, Valencia, and Almeria. They are believed to have played a role in cyber-attacks on the Spanish banks Bankia and BBVA, as well as the Italian energy group Enel, according to Reuters.

Anonymous has played a part in hacking government sites in Egypt, Tunisia and Iran. Bank websites, credit card companies and PayPal were also hacked by Anonymous. The notorious hacker group generally launches Web attacks against companies or governments the hackers deem detrimental to society.

 

Anonymous was formed in 2008, since when it has attracted notoriety during the past several years. The group claims that it consists of online citizens with no specific leader. 

Before the arrests, the group has issued a public response warning the NATO not to challenge it. 

Defending some of the group's recent actions in the name of freedom and dissent, Anonymous asserted that NATO fears the hacker group not because of its threat to the society but because it is a threat to the established hierarchy. 

Anonymous' statement reads:

Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of democracy, distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires. It is Anonymous' position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people's will which must take priority. The only threat transparency poses to government is to threaten government's ability to act in a manner which the people would disagree with, without having to face democratic consequences and accountability for such behaviour. 

Anonymous further warned NATO, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous.

 

The arrests of Anonymous members signal the rising tension among international authorities towards cyber attacks. The Pentagon has decided last month that the cyber attacks from a foreign country could be considered as acts of war, while the FBI said this week that it would increase its focus on battling cyber threats.  

The estimated damage of the hacker attacks against Sony has cost the company $173 million.