Europol says a global police operation has taken down 50 of the biggest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) booter services in the world.
Such services are designed to enable users to launch crippling DDoS attacks against critical online infrastructure, Europol said. Around 50 of them have now been taken down as part of an international crackdown against DDoS service providers.
“Known as Operation Power Off, this operation saw law enforcement in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany take action against these types of attacks which can paralyse the internet,” Europol said in a statement.
The services seized were the most popular DDoS booter services on the market, receiving top billing on search engines. One such service taken down had been used to carry out over 30 million attacks.
Seven administrators of these platforms have been arrested so far in the United States and the United Kingdom. Further actions are planned against the users of these illegal services.
Europol stressed that international police cooperation was central to the success of this operation because the administrators, users, critical infrastructure, and victims were scattered across the world.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre coordinated the activities in Europe through its Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT). America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and the UK’s National Crime Agency also took part in the operation.
This international sweep follows previous editions of Operation Power Off, which targeted the administrators and users of the DDoS marketplace webstresser.org.
DDoS tools are used as blunt hacking-style attacks to temporarily take websites and services offline. According to Europol, for a fee as low as €10 ($10.6), any low-skilled individual can launch DDoS attacks with a click of a button and knock entire websites offline by barraging them with traffic.
“The damage they can do to victims can be considerable, crippling businesses financially and depriving people of essential services offered by banks, government institutions and police forces,” said Europol.
More sophisticated hackers tend to sniff at DDoS attacks as they don’t really constitute hacking and require few skills, but they can be very effective at disrupting digital environments.
Just ask Ukraine, which was bombarded with DDoS attacks at the start of the Russian invasion. Ukrainian organizations, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liveuamap, and other services designed to help people find information, kept experiencing DDoS attacks.
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