Net closes on betting 'hackmail' gang

Bookies breathe huge sigh of relief…
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Bookies breathe huge sigh of relief…

Police are reported to be closing in on a gang of 'hackmailers' threatening to bring down betting websites during the year's biggest sporting weekend next month unless a 'protection' fee is paid.

The UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) revealed in January that it was investigating the threats against UK businesses, which are thought to be the work of organised criminal gangs rather than amateur hackers.

Using traditional 'pay up or we'll burn your shop down'-style tactics updated for the internet age, gangs are threatening to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on betting sites unless a blackmail fee is paid.

The threats come ahead of one of the busiest periods in the sporting calendar, which includes the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the FA Cup semi-finals, the US Masters golf, and the boat race, which attract millions of pounds in betting revenues over the web. The Grand National is one event that is believed to have been specifically targeted by the gangs.

The NHTCU is now closing in on a gang of Eastern Europeans believed to be behind the threats, according to a report in The Observer at the weekend.

A spokeswoman for the NHTCU told silicon.com that the unit is investigating cases of extortion against online betting sites involving the threat of DDoS but she declined to comment further on the investigation.

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