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April 25, 2018

Webstresser.org had 136,000 registered users and could be rented for about £10 to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, in which high volumes of internet traffic are launched at target computers to disable them.

Besides Croatian police, the action codenamed "Manufacture" was executed with the support of Europol and with participation of the police from the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, and Serbia.

This meant those with without deep tech skills could simply hire a DDoS attack, said Steve Wilson, head of Europol's Cybercrime Centre.

Two men have also been arrested in Scotland, police said.

The way a DDoS attack works is essentially the attacker remotely controls connected devices to direct a large amount of traffic at a website or an online platform, effectively slowing the victim website down past the point of usability or even knocking it completely offline.

"A significant criminal website has been shut down and the sophisticated crime group behind it stopped as a result of an worldwide investigation", said the NCA's Jo Goodall. The National Division Cybercrime Investigative Team was created in 2016 and has successfully conducted several investigations in collaboration with global partners, local law enforcement and federal government agencies.

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Croatia's cyber crimes unit has arrested a 19-year-old for allegedly running the world's largest illegal service for hacking internet pages. "Our success depends on law enforcement, government and industry working together to fight cyber crime".

This case, which was led by the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit, highlights the value of the global partnerships that are crucial to solving transnational cybercrimes. "By tracking down the DDoS service you use, we strip you of your anonymity, hand you a criminal record and put your victims in a position to claim back damages from you".

Many criminals market similar services as a legitimate method of testing the resilience of servers, but are not legal, the NCA warned.

DDoS attacks have traditionally been carried out by sophisticated technology users.

Another expert welcomed the arrest of the ringleaders of the website. "We have seen how cyber-attacks have real-world consequences resulting in actual physical harm, as well as causing reputational and financial damage to businesses of all sizes".

"Unfortunately, this service is neither a new proposition from criminals, nor is it likely to end with the takedown of webstresser.org".

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