Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and Alaska have charged six individuals for operating “leading DDoS-for-hire services”.
48 internet domains were seized as part of the operation. The FBI is currently seizing websites that allowed users to pay for DDoS services.
Some of the services were disguised as “stresser” services that authorised white hats could use for legitimate network testing against malicious attacks.
However, the FBI determined that “thousands of communications between booter site administrators and their customers … make clear that both parties are aware that the customer is not attempting to attack their own computers.”
The prosecutions come ahead of the festive period when DDoS attacks often increase. Gaming and communication services are prime targets to maximise disruption.
“Criminals are increasingly targeting essential services and our critical infrastructure with DDoS attacks that can cost victims valuable time, money and reputational harm,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“Whether a criminal launches an attack independently or pays a skilled contractor to carry one out, the FBI will work with victims and use the considerable tools at our disposal to identify the person or group responsible.”
An advertising campaign has been launched by the FBI, the UK’s National Crime Agency, and the Netherlands Police to deter people from using DDoS services. Certain keywords that are associated with DDoS activities will bring up the ads that aim to highlight the illegality of using related services.
“These booter services allow anyone to launch cyberattacks that harm individual victims and compromise everyone’s ability to access the internet,” commented United States Attorney Martin Estrada.
“This week’s sweeping law enforcement activity is a major step in our ongoing efforts to eradicate criminal conduct that threatens the internet’s infrastructure and our ability to function in a digital world.”
Numerous public entities collaborated on the operation including the FBI field offices in Albany, Honolulu, Miami, Philadelphia and San Antonio; the UK’s National Crime Agency; the Netherlands Police; EUROPOL; and the Brandon Police Service in Manitoba, Canada.
A number of private entities also contributed including Akamai, Cloudflare, Digital Ocean, Entertainment Software Association, Google, Oracle, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, PayPal, Unit 221B, the University of Cambridge, and Yahoo.
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