The US Justice Department announced on Wednesday that a law enforcement operation has resulted in the seizure of 48 internet domains associated with popular DDoS-for-hire services, as well as charges against six alleged operators of these services.
The websites, known as ‘booter’ or ‘stresser’ services, make it easy for their customers to launch DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks against a target. The customer does not require any knowledge of hacking techniques in order to launch an attack and cause potentially significant disruption.
According to authorities, the seized websites were used to launch millions of actual or attempted DDoS attacks.
Some of the sites attempted to avoid legal liability by claiming that the services they offered were designed for testing the security of the customer’s own network. However, investigators obtained communications between the administrators of the DDoS-for-hire services and their customers, and the messages “make clear that both parties are aware that the customer is not attempting to attack their own computers,” the FBI said.
Authorities pointed out that the DDoS attack services were shut down just before Christmas, when a significant increase in attacks is expected against online gaming services.
Some of the targeted DDoS-for-hire websites display a message informing visitors that they have been seized by the FBI, while others are no longer accessible or display a “closed” message. However, a few of the websites appear to still be accessible at the time of writing.
The seizure message includes the logo of Europol, as well as law enforcement agencies in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland.
The DoJ said some of these agencies have launched ad campaigns in search engines to inform and educate the public, and deter potential cybercriminals looking for DDoS services.
US authorities have also announced charges against six individuals living in the country. Two of them, John Dobbs, 32, of Hawaii, and Joshua Laing, 32, of New York, have been charged in Alaska for their alleged role in the operation of the booter services named IPStressor.com and TrueSecurityServices.io, respectively. Dobbs is said to have run the IPStressor service for more than a decade and Laing was allegedly involved in the cybercrime operation since 2014.
In addition, four people have been charged in Los Angeles, including Jeremiah Sam Evans Miller of Texas for running RoyalStresser.com, Angel Manuel Colon Jr. of Florida for running SecurityTeam.io, Shamar Shattock of Florida for running Astrostress.com, and Cory Anthony Palmer of Florida for running a booter service named Booter.sx.
All of the six suspects have been informed about the charges brought against them and they are expected to make their first appearance in court early next year.