Hacking suspect arrested for 'biggest cyberattack in history'

Remember Spamhaus? The attack was apparently conducted not from a bedroom, but an antenna-equipped mobile van.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

A Dutch national suspected as the mastermind behind the largest DDoS attack ever recorded has been arrested in Spain.

cybercrime spamhaus dns biggest internet attack history hacker arrested

The Associated Press reports that 35 year-old Sven Kamphuis, identified by The New York Times, was arrested Thursday in a city 22 miles north of Barcelona.

Originally from the Dutch city of Alkmaar, the hacking suspect operated from a mobile bunker — a van "equipped with various antennas to scan frequencies" and able to break into networks anywhere in the country. An Interior Ministry statement said that Kamphuis was able to use his "mobile computing office" to coordinate cyberattacks and speak with media before being arrested by Spanish police on the basis of a European arrest warrant issued by the Dutch. German, Dutch, British and U.S. forces all took part in the investigation.

Kamphuis runs Internet service provider CB3ROB and web hosting firm CyberBunker, which has hosted websites including the Pirate Bay and WikiLeaks in the past. The Interior Ministry's statement says that the accused called himself a spokesperson and diplomat belonging to the "Telecommunications and Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Republic of Cyberbunker." 

The alleged hacker is accused of launching an attack against anti-spam watchdog group Spamhaus. A 300Gbps distributed denial-of-service sent the non-profit into disarray, taking down the agency's website and forcing Spamhaus to turn to Cloudflare for assistance. According to the cloud services provider, the majority of the attack was traffic sent using a technique called DNS (domain name system) reflection. Usually, DNS resolves wait for a user request, but if the source address is forged, then requests may be "bounced" off different servers, amplifying the amount of traffic a domain name has to cope with and exploiting vulnerabilities in the Internet's DNS infrastructure. Most cyberattacks tend to peak at 100 billion bits a second, which is a third of what Spamhaus and Cloudflare had to cope with.

The attack on DNS infrastructure resulted in lower speeds for Internet users worldwide.

The attack against Spamhaus — which is known for blocking fake good advertising and preventing it from reaching our email addresses — was one in a list of major DDoS campaigns thought to be masterminded by the Dutch national.

Kamphuis has denied any role in the attack, calling himself simply a "spokesperson" for one of the loose groups established to take down Spamhaus. However, according to the NYT, the alleged hacker used his Facebook page to proactively look for supporters to attack the agency, saying "Yo anons, we could use a little help in shutting down illegal slander and blackmail censorship project ‘spamhaus.org,’ which thinks it can dictate its views on what should and should not be on the Internet."

The hacking suspect is likely to be extradited from Spain to attend court in the Netherlands.

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