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Webstresser.com was shut down and six of its moderators were arrested Wednesday in a crime bust called Operation Power Off. WebStresser made it easy for people with little to no technical background to launch a DDoS attack by paying a nominal fee. Europol, the law enforcement agency of the E.U., said the site charged as little as 15 euros for so-called booters (also called stressers), or tools that lower the threshold to conduct attacks.
With around 136,000 users, WebStresser was the largest website selling DDoS attacks and is thought to be responsible for four to six million hacks. For those who aren’t familiar, a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack works by flooding a website with traffic from multiple IP addresses until it can’t handle the weight of their requests. Typically, it’s young people who purchase DDoS booters from places like WebStresser and launch them against important business, like banks, government institutions, and police forces.
“The damage of these attacks is substantial. Victims are out of business for a period of time, and spend money on mitigation and on (other) security measures,” the Dutch National Police and Public Prosecution Service said in a statement.
Police forces from all around the world were involved in the operation, including those in the Netherlands, Germany, England, Scotland, Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, Serbia, the USA, Croatia, Hong Kong, Europol, and the Joint Cyber Action Task Force. The administrators who were arrested were located in the U.K., Croatia, Canada, and Serbia.
The security collective answered questions in an AMA on Reddit earlier today. It said customers of WebStresser will be dealt with “in their own way” by each individual law enforcement agency, and that 10 arrests had been made in the hours following the shutdown.
“Stresser websites make powerful weapons in the hands of cybercriminals” said Jaap van Oss, Dutch chairman of the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce. “International law enforcement will not tolerate these illegal services and will continue to pursue its admins and users. This joint operation is yet another successful example of the ongoing international effort against these destructive cyberattacks.”
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.