Illegal website users targeted in joint law enforcement activity focused on DDoS

The National Crime Agency (NCA), working in conjunction with law enforcement partners from 14 countries, has taken action against a number of users of illegal websites, with those involved linked to four million attacks across the globe. This latest action is part of Operation Power Off, which pursues those individuals and services responsible for committing or facilitating Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Webstresser.org was the most popular DDoS-for-Hire service on the market, with 136,000 international users of the service until it was shut down in April 2018 by the Dutch police with assistance from Germany and the US.

DDoS is a form of cyber attack in which a target website is so overwhelmed by requests for access that it may crash.
DDoS-for-Hire services allow criminals to carry out these attacks more easily by providing access to DDoS botnets (networks of malware-infected computers).

The impact of such attacks can be crippling for an organisation, with complete disruption of service and a substantial impact on the confidentiality or integrity of personal data.

Since November last year, a number of Webstresser.org users in the UK have found themselves the subject of law enforcement activity. Officers from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, with support from Regional Organised Crime Units and Police Scotland, have executed eight warrants and seized more than 60 personal computers, tablets and mobile phones. A number of users also received ‘Cease and Desist’ notices.

A further 400 users of the service are now being targeted by the NCA and partners.

Jim Stokley, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Cyber crime isn’t constricted by borders. The co-ordinated international response to this threat shows how law enforcement works around the globe to combat criminally orchestrated disruption impacting the public sector, commerce and the public at large. The action taken shows that, although users think that they can hide behind usernames and cryptocurrency, these don’t provide anonymity. We’ve already identified further suspects linked to the site and will continue to take action.”

Stokley concluded: “Our message is clear. This activity should serve as a warning to those considering launching DDoS attacks. The NCA and our law enforcement partners will identify you, find you and hold you liable for the damage you cause.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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