February 1, 2019 at
According to a recent press release by Europol, users of a now shut down website webstresser.org are now being targeted by law enforcement authorities of 20 countries around the world. The increase in DDoS attacks that was witnessed in last several years has caused authorities to react a long time ago, and in 2018, they managed to organize a takedown of the largest DDoS-for-hire website in the world.
At the time, authorities managed to arrest six individuals suspected to be administrators of the website. Now, however, the authorities are ready to make a move against the users of the site’s services. According to the press release, the operation Power OFF is currently focused on tracking of 151,000 registered users, with the support of law enforcement agencies from 20 countries.
The countries that have joined the cause so far include the US, Colombia, Australia, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, and Greece. Europol also reported that the authorities are in possession of a massive amount of information confiscated from webstresser.org during the takedown.
The UK’s NCA (National Crime Agency) has also already executed eight warrants against the website’s customers. In addition, they managed to seize over 60 devices, including phones, computers, and tablets. The NCA itself confirmed that it is currently targeting another 400 of the website’s users, in collaboration with partner agencies.
Every user of DDoS-for-hire websites will be unmasked
Anyone who ever used the service is now targeted by the operation Power OFF, according to the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit Deputy Director, Jim Stokley. Whether the user is a gamer who targeted competition, or a professional hacker who was in it for financial gain, those who consider launching DDoS attacks will be identified, found, and held reliable for their actions.
Meanwhile, a London-based McAfee fellow and chief scientist, Raj Samani, also stated that the law enforcement will unmask all of the website’s customers and that there is no real anonymity behind simple usernames.
Operation Power OFF has already yielded numerous results, including the discovery of 250 WebStresser users who are currently facing prosecution in the UK, with 400 more being targeted right now, as mentioned. In addition, one of the hackers has received a three-year-long prison sentence for launching DDoS attacks in Liberia. This hacker’s actions managed to crash the internet of the entire country, which resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage.
In Romania, authorities managed to seize several DDoS platforms, as well as data regarding their user bases. Finally, in the US, the FBI seized two more DDoS services that offered attacks for hire — Quantum Stresser and Downthem. The FBI made its move on December 15th, 2018.
While the worldwide collaboration between different authorities for the purposes of such crackdowns is not a new thing, operation Power OFF has performed exceptionally well so far. The founder and CEO of LIFARS, Ondrej Krehel, stated that taking down botnets that hackers have pieced together requires a lot of work and cooperation of various international agencies. Even so, hackers are typically bold as they understand that closing in on them takes time and that there is a possibility for them to get away with their crimes due to a lack of evidence.
Because of this, Operation Power OFF took additional precautions to collect as much evidence as possible, and ensure that no one guilty of using and hiring these services will go unpunished.