* Police in Ticino confiscated computer material
* Man suspected of carrying out cyber attacks
ZURICH, July 7 (Reuters) - Swiss police have searched the home of an Italian citizen suspected of carrying out cyber attacks in Italy, prosecutors said on Thursday.
“We confiscated computer material we will now have to examine closely,” said Xaverio Snider, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Lugano, a lakeside town in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region, an hour north of Milan.
The man is suspected of being part of the Internet activist group “Anonymous” that attacked websites it considered hostile to WikiLeaks after it posted confidential U.S. diplomatic cables on its website last year.
Online payments service PayPal and credit card giants Visa and MasterCard were among Anonymous’ targets.
Snider said the Swiss authorities intervened at the demand of their Italian counterparts, as all the alleged offenses had been committed in Italy.
“The man is an Italian citizen but he was born in Ticino and has lived here all his life,” he said.
Police in Italy said they have identified a group of hackers who have carried out several cyber attacks on Italian institutions and companies since January.
Italy’s anti-cyber crime police CNAIPIC have identified three people, including a minor. So far they have made 32 raids in Italy, as well as the Lugano raid conducted in coordination with Swiss authorities, Italian police said in a statement.
“The damage caused to institutions and companies hit by an attack is extensive; they are no longer able to provide services to users while the return to normal functioning of the web site often takes several hours, coming with a considerable cost,” police said.
Companies affected so far include oil major ENI , utility Enel and media company Mediaset , owned by the family of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz in Zurich and Catherine Hornby in Rome; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall