Last week an international police targeting an operation and Europol has announced that the law enforcement agencies from 13 countries around the world have arrested 34 and questioned and warned 101 more as part of the operation that targets the users of Netspoof DDoS attack tool and charges of launching DDoS attacks using DDoS-for-hire services against gaming providers, government agencies, internet hosting companies, schools and colleges.
The majority of that were male teenagers, mostly adults under 20 years’ old who allegedly were using distributed denial of service (DDoS) tools to flood targets with malicious traffic, Europol announced on Monday. A fact that’s no surprise to observers of an industry whose users are known mostly by the pejorative nickname “script kiddies.”
“From 5 to 9 December 2016, Europol and law enforcement authorities from Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States carried out a coordinated action targeting users of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber-attack tools, leading to 34 arrests and 101 suspects interviewed and cautioned.” states the official announcement from the Europol.
These 13 countries participated in this action, codenamed Operation Tarpit. The Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) provided its support to law enforcement worldwide to identify suspects in the EU and beyond. A project with the aim of targeting cyberattacks that affect critical infrastructure and information systems in the EU.
“The participating countries worked together in the framework of the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) project targeting cyber-attacks that affect critical infrastructure and information systems in the EU.” continues the Europol.
The FBI, Europol, and law enforcement in 13 European nations arrested and warned dozens of teenagers in Europe. All those arrested are mainly “young adults under the age of 20,” and the tools used in these attacks are part of the criminal (DDoS for hire) facilities that hackers can pay to use and which can be aimed at whichever target these hackers choose.
Previous Operations Conducted for DDoS Users (Criminal Activities)
1. In this year, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted an investigation by led to the arrest of two individualsbelieved to be operating a DDoS-for-hire-service.
2. In Last year, the U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) conducted an investigation by led to arrested six malesaged between 15 and 18, suspected of using the DDoS tool called Netspoof.
In Netspoof 20 teen involved from a town near Birmingham were named as Grant Manser, Between January 2012 and November 2014 created and managed Netspoof and three other DDoS booter services such as Dejabooter, Vexstresser, and Refinedstresser are also used.
Authorities said Manser made around £50,000 ($63,200) from his DDoS-for-hire services, and that his operations grew so large, that he had to hire support staff.
According to court documents, Manser’s sites had 12,800 registered users, of which 400 bought his tools, launching 603,499 DDoS attacks on 224,548 targets.
“Manser charged between £4.99 and £20 ($6.3 and $25), and payments were handled via PayPal. Authorities eventually tracked down Manser through his PayPal accounts” UK Police said.
In April 2016, a UK judge sentenced Manser to two years’ youth detention suspended for 18 months, 100 hours of community work and a fine of £800 ($1,130).
The judge said he went easy on Manser because he built safeguards in his tools to prevent users from attacking police, hospitals, and other government institutions. The judge was also impressed that Manser saved his money, instead of blindly spending it on lavish objects such as cars and jewelry, like other crooks.
3. The available the Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) business model, attract many young and adult cyber-criminals who lack advanced computer skills but are looking for fast and easy money, as same like DDoS-for-hire services.This Ransomware Gang Made $450,000 in Last year.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) supported the law enforcement agencies in their efforts to identify suspects in the European Union and beyond.
“The individuals arrested are suspected of paying for stressers and booters services to maliciously deploy software to launch DDoS attacks, which flood websites and web servers with massive amount of data, leaving them inaccessible to users,” according to a Europol statement. “The tools used are part of the criminal ‘DDoS for hire’ facilities for which hackers can pay and aim it at targets at their choosing.”
“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cybercrime. Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry.” Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said. “One of the key priorities of law enforcement should be to engage with these young people to prevent them from pursuing a criminal path, helping them understand how they can use their skills for a more constructive purpose. “
The operation is the starting point of a “prevention campaign” designed to minimum youth cybercrime: “Many do it for fun without realizing the consequences of their actions, but the penalties can be severe and have a negative impact on their future prospects. The teenagers that become involved in cybercrime often have a skill set that could be put to a positive use.”
Communities like HackForums.net that are a massive educational resource for information security. Many of the members have gone on to successful, legal careers within the industry.