UK authorities announced the closure of a website that is responsible for more than four million computer attacks around the world, including bank giants in the UK as part of an international operation leading to several arrests.
“Hackers around the world have used the webstresser.org website, which could be rented for only $ 14.99 (12.30 euros), to launch more than 4 million online attacks,” Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) in a statement.
“Authorities in five countries, including the Netherlands, Serbia, Croatia and Canada, with the support of the Scottish Police and Europol, have targeted six members of the criminal group behind webstresser.org,” said the British anti-crime agency.
Meanwhile, the Dutch police, supported by their German and American counterparts, “seized servers and closed the site this morning at 11:30 am (1030 GMT),” the NCA added.
The site was used to launch “denial of service attacks”, which aim to flood a network or computer with queries to prevent it from working. On Wednesday noon, the homepage of the site presented a message announcing that the domain name had been seized by the US Department of Defense.
Several arrests have been made, including two men in the Lanarkshire area of Scotland, according to Scottish police.
In Croatia, the Interior Ministry announced in a statement that the site “was run by a 19-year-old Croatian national” who was arrested on Tuesday. Presented as the owner of the site and suspected of a serious breach of the security of computer systems, he faces “a sentence of one to eight years in prison.”
In Serbia, two people aged 19 and 21 suspected of being administrators of the site were arrested, according to the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, which explained that the Webstresser website was considered the world’s largest market for the rental of such attacks.
As part of the investigation, the NCA also identified an address in Bradford, in the north of England, where it conducted a search, associated with an individual suspected of being associated with the computer attack that had affected “seven of UK’s largest banks” in November 2017.
The banks “were forced to limit their operations, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to restore service,” according to the NCA.
“By nature, cybercrime is a cross-border threat, and our response must be based on close collaboration between services,” said NCA investigator Jo Goodall.
“The arrests over the past two days show that the Internet does not provide absolute anonymity to offenders, and we hope to identify other suspects linked to the site in the coming weeks,” she added.
Claire Georges, a spokeswoman for Europol who coordinated the operation from The Hague on Tuesday, said “new measures” would be taken against users of the site in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Croatia, in Hong Kong, Italy and the Netherlands, which may include arrests.