Europol announced that 34 individuals who paid for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) services have been arrested. The organization’s European Cybercrime Center collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement agencies from a swath of other countries to carry out the operation.
Representatives from Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States teamed up to carry out the crackdown. As well as the 34 individuals who were arrested, 100 more were questioned and cautioned between December 5 and Friday, according to a report published on security expert Graham Cluley’s website.
The difference between this and other efforts to quell attacks of this kind is the fact that individuals who paid to have DDoS operations carried out are being targeted, rather than botnet operators. This seems to be an indication that authorities are willing to pursue all elements involved with the practice, rather than focusing on those at the source.
Sean Sharma, a 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Southern California, was among those arrested. Sharma stands accused of using booters and stressers — two types of services that are commonly employed in DDoS attacks — to take a San Francisco-based chat company’s website offline.
Apparently, many of the people who were arrested as part of the operation were under the age of 20. “Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cybercrime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry,” read a statement published by Europol.
This large-scale operation is only the “kick-off” of a prevention campaign being carried out across all the countries involved in the effort. Cybercrime is a growing concern for law enforcement agencies all around the world, so it makes a lot of sense for authorities to reach out to younger people in an effort to prevent them from getting caught up in criminal activities.