"NATO considers in a recent brief that 'Anonymous' is, as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and North Korea, an important threat to the organisation because they could get sensitive data and disclose it,".
Spanish police said on Friday they have arrested three suspected computer hackers who are allegedly part of a loose-knit international activist group that attacked corporate and government websites around the world.
Spain''s National Police identified the three as alleged leaders of the Spanish section of a group that calls itself ''Anonymous.''
All three are Spaniards aged 30 to 32, said Manuel Vazquez, chief of the police''s high-tech crime unit.
"NATO considers in a recent brief that ''Anonymous'' is, as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and North Korea, an important threat to the organisation because they could get sensitive data and disclose it," Vazquez told reporters.
A computer server in one of their homes was used to take part in cyber attacks on targets including two major Spanish banks, the Italian energy company Enel and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand, Vazquez said.
The server had also been used to hack into an online PlayStation store, but Vazquez said the three detainees had not been involved in an April cyber intrusion which affected millions of PlayStation Network users.
The three detainees have been released without bail but face a charge that is new in the Spanish penal code - disrupting a computer system, Vazquez said.
He gave no details on what effect these attacks had.
The three detainees allegedly staged cyber attacks on the website of Spain''s central electoral commission a few days before local and regional elections on 22 May, that of the regional police force in the northeast Catalonia region and a major Spanish labour union.
The night before the election, the three men are said to have tried to shut down the web pages of Spain''s two main political parties and that of the Spanish parliament but were thwarted by police.
The suspects in Spain were arrested in Barcelona, the Valencia region and the southern city of Almeria.
Since October 2010, Spanish police - specializing in cyber crime - have analyzed more than two million lines of online chat and Internet pages until they finally closed in on the three suspects.