In April, hackers broke into Sony's online network, gaining access to the personal information and passwords of some 77 million PSN and Qriosity accounts. The attacks were believed to have been conducted by Anonymous, a decentralized group of hackers who it turns out might not be as unknown as their name suggests.
According to the New York Times, Spanish police today confirmed that they apprehended three men in connection with the Sony security breach. The police believe they were involved not only with the attacks on Sony, but with other strikes against government websites the world over, and characterized the trio as the local heads of Anonymous.
The three men--all in their early 30s--were apprehended in Almeria, Barcelona, and Valencia, and released pending formal charges. According to the paper, the expected charges will be forming an illegal association to attack public and corporate websites, with each facing a prison sentence of up to three years.
The PSN outage first began on April 20, when Sony brought down the service ostensibly for just a few days. It wasn't until mid-May that the gaming company began restoring PSN functionality.
On June 1, Sony restored service to the PlayStation Store, giving gamers the chance to once again engage in digital commerce through the online platform, with full restoration achieved earlier this week. Sony has also begun offering a selection of free games and other perks for affected PS3 and PSP users to make up for the outage. According to a financial report by Sony, the attack is expected to cost the company more than $171 million.
[UPDATE]: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Anonymous trio was not arrested in connection with the personal data theft that brought PSN services down for a month. The paper cites the head of the Spanish police's high-tech crimes division as saying the three were picked up for their role in denial-of-service attacks on Sony servers.
In early April, Anonymous first made Sony a public target of its activities and disrupted the company's PlayStation websites and PSN for a couple of days. However, Anonymous called for an end to such activities, saying they were hurting consumers instead of the actual target, Sony.