According to new reports, at least three individuals were recently arrested by the FBI in a recent operation that focused on seizing DDoS-for-hire websites. The FBI cooperated with authorities of Alaska and California in order to shut down these websites, and in the process, three men suspected of running some of them were charged.
The move was made on Thursday, and federal authorities successfully seized around 15 “booter” sites as a result. These “booter”, or “stresser”, websites are online services that allow those without hacking knowledge or experience to launch their own DDoS attacks . The services are allegedly free, and the FBI has released a list of websites that are no longer operational.
As mentioned, the list contains 15 websites, which include Booter, Anon Security Team, BullStresser, DEFCON PRO, Critical BOOT, Downthem, Defiance Protocol, Layer7-Stresser, Quantum Stress, RequestRip, Netstress, Ragebooter, TOR Security Team, Str3sser Networks, and vBooter.
According to Nick Hanna, the United States Attorney, the crackdown is expected to have a significant impact on this industry. However, there are still numerous other sites offering the same or similar services, and the authorities will continue their efforts to eliminate them all. Furthermore, Hanna added that the authorities are committed to ridding the web of such services and creating an environment where information can flow freely and without disruptions.
These and similar websites have been online for a while, however, they managed to stay under the FBI radar due to false advertising. Allegedly, they claimed to offer services for stress testing different domains owned by subscribers to the service. In reality, these websites were used for disrupting other websites. The reason for using them might be anything from political reasons to pure anger or spite.
The FBI has also confirmed that several of these domains were previously used for conducting DDoS attacks on gaming websites. The crackdown came only a week before Christmas holiday, which is a period typically known for a significant increase in DDoS attacks .
As mentioned, apart from seizing the domains, the FBI also arrested three individuals suspected to be behind several of the domains. Two of them — Juan Martinez and Matthew Gatrel — were charged with conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Martinez was tied to the crimes related to the website Ampnode, while Gatrel was indicted with crimes relating to a website called Downthem.
As for the third individual, they were identified as David Bukowski. Bukowski was charged with abetting and aiding computer intrusions. According to the report, he was in charge of operating Quantum Stresser, which is among the oldest DDoS services on the internet.
Federal authorities estimated that this site alone has caused over 50,000 attacks in 2018 alone, with over 80,000 subscribers in the last 6 years. As of yet, none of the websites’ subscribers or users were arrested. However, authorities confirm that they will seek prosecution for anyone who chooses to hire any such website.
Matthew Gorham, the Assistant Director at the FBI has stated that both, hiring others to conduct an attack or doing it personally, are considered criminal activity. As such, all those involved are considered criminals, and the FBI will continue in their efforts to identify and potentially prosecute such individuals by using every tool at their disposal.