International Campaign Targets Young Adults Suspected of Possessing Cyberattack Tools

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A coordinated effort from Europol and multinational law enforcement has resulted in over 100 interviews, cautions and arrests for users of distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattack tools.

Supported by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, authorities from Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States identified individuals suspected of purchasing stressers and booters services used to launch malicious software.

The joint international operation, which took place between Dec. 5 and 9, 2016, specifically targeted young adults under the age of 20, using collated intelligence and analytical support to locate suspects possessing tools associated with facilities that flood websites and web servers with crippling amounts of data, leaving critical infrastructure inaccessible. 

DDoS is not a new tactic, however its use has broadened since hackers began using connected devices – the internet of things – to launch larger scale attacks, like the Oct. 21 attack on Dyn, which temporarily brought down a number of popular websites, such as Reddit and Twitter.

Depending on national legislation, users were interviewed, detained and arrested or fined, notifications were sent to parents and house searches were conducted, among other actions. A total of 34 arrests took place.

“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cybercrime,” said Steven Wilson, head of the European Cybercrime Centre, in a press release. “Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry. 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.”

More information on Europol’s prevention campaign to raise awareness of young adults getting involved in cybercrime can
be explored on its website.