The Department of Justice (DoJ) has been authorized to seize 48 internet domains and has laid criminal charges against six individuals who allegedly ran distributed denial of service (DDoS) or "booter" or "stresser" services from the US.
The FBI is seizing the 48 domains that facilitated DDoS attacks for paying customers against targeted computers. The DDoS attacks prevented the targeted computers from accessing the internet.
According to the DoJ, the 48 websites were used to launch millions of DDoS attacks against victims around the world. The sites promoted themselves as a "stresser", or a legitimate service to stress-test the customer's network. But the FBI found this mechanism was a cover after viewing communications between the site administrators and customers, which indicated both parties were aware that the customer was not attempting to stress-test their own computers.
"These booter services allow anyone to launch cyberattacks that harm individual victims and compromise everyone's ability to access the internet," said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.
"This week's sweeping law enforcement activity is a major step in our ongoing efforts to eradicate criminal conduct that threatens the internet's infrastructure and our ability to function in a digital world."
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The FBI, the UK National Crime Agency, and the Netherlands Police have also kicked off an online campaign via search engine ads that are configured to appear when people use keywords associated with DDoS activities.
DDoS-for-hire services are a problem because they're cheap to operate and allow anyone without technical skills to carry out an attack. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned earlier this year that compromised Internet of Things (IoT) devices are often used to create large botnets used for DDoS attacks.
"Criminals are increasingly targeting essential services and our critical infrastructure with DDoS attacks that can cost victims valuable time, money and reputational harm," said Donald Alway, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office.
The defendants charged in Los Angeles are:
The four defendants have been informed of the charges against them and are expected to make their initial court appearances in United States District Court in Los Angeles early next year. It said the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The DoJ also filed criminal charges against two men in the District of Alaska.
The defendants charged in criminal informations filed in Alaska are:
The Justice Department said the two defendants have been informed of the charges against them and are expected to make their initial court appearances early next year. It noted that criminal informations contain allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.