​US male arrested for string of DDoS attacks against Australia, North America

The two-and-a-half year cross-border investigation has ended with the arrest of an Iranian-born male in the United States.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

A 37-year-old male has been arrested in Seattle in connection with serious cyber-related offenses targeting business in Australia and North America.

The Iranian born US citizen was arrested on Wednesday local time following a two-and-a-half year joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Toronto Police Department.

In a statement, AFP Manager Cyber Crime Operations Commander David McLean said the offences related to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on IT systems across Australia, Canada, and the US.

In early 2015, a number of businesses fell victim to the DDoS attacks and were subsequently contacted by an individual making certain demands of the companies, the commander explained.

"This is a timely reminder to cyber criminals that international law enforcement is a team sport. Our ability and willingness to work together at a distance and across borders has never been greater," he added.

McLean also said the successful outcome of the long-running investigation is a testament to the close working relationships the AFP has with its overseas partners, acknowledging also the companies who were victims of the attacks for their ongoing cooperation.

The man has been detained in custody after appearing in the United States District Court for the State of Washington in Seattle.

86 percent of the total cyber-related attacks experienced by Australian organisations during a 12-month period originated from within the country's borders, a 2017 report from NTT Security found.

The United States was the source of 9 percent of the total attacks, while Germany accounted for 1 percent.

DDoS attacks, as experienced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Census night last year and most recently by Australian domain name registrar Melbourne IT, was the top attack category, according to NTT, accounting for 23 percent of the total attacks measured in Australia. Website application attacks accounted for 19 percent.

DDoS attacks accounted for merely 6 percent of total attacks experienced globally, however.

A Queensland Parliamentary committee earlier this week heard from the state's police force that proposed legislation could allow them to turn household devices connected to the internet into listening devices, in order to spy on conversations.

"It is not outside the realm that, if you think about the connected home that we now look at quite regularly where people have their security systems, their CCTV systems and their computerised refrigerator all hooked up wirelessly, you could actually turn someone's fridge into a listening device," Police Commissioner Ian Stewart is quoted as saying by the Brisbane Times.

The Counter-Terrorism and Other Legislation Amendment bill would give police more powers during and following attacks. It would also allow police the power to search a person or vehicle without a warrant during a declared terrorist emergency, it was reported.

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