As people around the world turn to online services during the pandemic, hackers seek profits from denial-of-service and ransomware attacks
Dutch police said they had shut down 15 so-called booter services, used to launch denial-of service attacks against online services, within the space of a single week, as the use of such attack tools accelerates during the coronavirus pandemic.
Police also said they had arrested a teenager from the town of Breda, near the Belgian border, who they allege had shut down two online services used to disseminate government information, including information related to Covid-19.
Europol recently warned that criminals have increased their activity around denial-of-service attacks and ransomware, as they seek to profit from the coronavirus-related lockdowns affecting much of the world, which have made individuals far more reliant on online services.
Denial-of-service attackers typically seek to disrupt a website or online service by overloading it with traffic, then charge a fee to have the service restored.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks involve the use of a large network of systems, typically computers that have previously been compromised by malware, to direct malicious traffic to a target, overloading it and making it virtually inaccessible.
The 19-year-old Breda man, who was not named, used DDoS tools to shut down Overheid.nl, a government information portal, and MijnOverheid.nl, a personalised service for accessing government data that is offered via the same portal.
Both sites were inaccessible for several hours on 19 March, police said.
“By shutting down a website like this one, you deprive citizens of access to their personal data and important government information,” said Jeroen Niessen, head of the Central Netherlands police’s cybercrime team.
The suspect, who is accused of compromising vital safety information, is to be arraigned by a Dutch court in the coming days.
Police said they had taken down 15 DDoS-for-hire services, called booter or stressor services, during the week of 30 March to 3 April, working with web hosting companies, domain registrars, Europol, Interpol and the FBI.
The intervention follows Dutch police’s move in October of last year to take down a web hosting company that was found to be providing back-end infrastructure to a number of DDoS botnets.
In December 2018 Dutch police participated in an international crackdown on DDoS booter services spearheaded by the FBI and Europol, which took down 15 stressor services just ahead of Christmas.
Police advised online service operators to make use of anti-DDoS services and not to pay attackers.