The seizure of several websites offering distributed denial of service (DDoS) for hire services has allowed authorities to track down and take action against people who used such websites, Europol announced today.
Also known as stresser or booter services, these DDoS-for-hire sites have lowered the entry barrier into cybercrime. Wannabe-criminals can launch massive DDoS attacks for a small fee, without having technical knowledge or coding skills.
“The damage they can do to victims can be considerable, crippling businesses financially and depriving people of essential services offered by banks, government institutions and police forces,” Europol points out.
Over the past year, authorities and law enforcement agencies in Europe and around the world have worked together to take down tens of DDoS marketplaces, including webstresser.org, Downthem and Quantum Stresser, which provided them with tons of information on the users of these services.
Seized in April last year, webstresser.org had over 150,000 registered users and was used to launch millions of attacks on targets located all around the world. It allowed anyone to launch attacks for as low as €15.00 a month.
The Dutch Politie and the British National Crime Agency are currently taking action against the users of DDoS services, Europol says.
The police have already visited webstresser.org users in the United Kingdom and seized over 60 personal electronic devices, while also conducting live operations against other DDoS criminals. More than 250 users of DDoS services will soon face action for the damage they have caused, Europol says.
In the Netherlands, the police and the prosecutor’s office have developed a dedicated project to deal with young first-time offenders, in an attempt to prevent them from engaging into more serious crimes. “A Dutch user of webstresser.org has already received this alternative sanction,” Europol says.
Other countries have also joined the fight against DDoS attacks, including Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Australia, Colombia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway and the United States.
Some of these countries are specifically focusing on taking action against users of webstresser.org, but the users of other DDoS booter and stresser services are being targeted as well. The Romanian police has taken measures against the individuals behind 2 smaller-scale DDoS platforms and has also seized digital evidence, such as information about the users.
“Size does not matter – all levels of users are under the radar of law enforcement, be it a gamer booting out the competition out of a game, or a high-level hacker carrying out DDoS attacks against commercial targets for financial gain,” Europol said.