Spamhaus DDoS Suspect ArrestedCyberbunker leader traveled Spain in a van, accessed Wi-Fi hotspots to launch DDoS attacks against anti-spam opponents, Dutch authorities allege.
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Police in the Netherlands Friday announced the arrest of a 35-year-old Dutchman on charges of having launched "unprecedented heavy attacks on the non-profit organization Spamhaus."
The suspect, identified only as "S.K." by Dutch police, has been named in multiple news reports as Sven Kamphuis, the leader of Amsterdam-based "bulletproof hosting provider" Cyberbunker, as well as service provider CB3ROB. Kamphuis has been a vocal proponent of -- although not, he's claimed, participant in -- the Stophaus.com movement that seeks to undercut anti-spam intelligence service Spamhaus.
"S.K." was arrested Thursday on a European arrest warrant by Spanish police, 22 miles north of Barcelona, after a 25-day investigation that was coordinated via Eurojust, which is a collaboration between European Union law enforcement agencies. As part of the arrest, Spanish police also seized two laptops, as well as multiple mobile phones and storage devices.
According to a statement released by Spain's Interior Ministry, "the suspect was traveling across Spain in a van that he used as mobile computing office," which was "equipped with various antennas to scan frequencies," which allowed him to access Wi-Fi networks, through which authorities said he not only conducted media interviews but also launched DDoS attacks.
[ What are your takeaways from the "Stophaus" DDoS campaign? Read Spamhaus DDoS Attacks: What Business Should Learn. ]
Spanish police said that upon his arrest, the suspect identified himself as a diplomat, saying he was the Minister of Telecommunications and Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Cyberbunker.
According to the High Tech Crime Team police unit in the Netherlands, the DDoS attacks launched against Spamhaus -- of which Kamphuis is being accused -- targeted servers in the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and employed fake IP addresses. The DDoS attacks gained notoriety by peaking at an unprecedented 300 gigabits per second, leading some commentators to falsely assert that the attacks slowed down the Internet.
The Spamhaus Project maintains real-time spam-blocking databases used by a variety of service providers, as well as government and military network operators, to help them block spam. According to Matthew Prince, CEO of DDoS prevention service CloudFlare -- of which Spamhaus is a customer -- 80% of spam traveling across the Internet gets filtered thanks to Spamhaus.
The dispute between Cyberbunker and Spamhaus stems from the anti-spam service previously requesting that Cyberbunker block pharmaceutical spam and botnet communications emanating from its networks.
"A year ago, we started seeing pharma and botnet controllers at Cyberbunker's address ranges, so we started to list them," an anonymous Spamhaus member told security reporter Brian Krebs Friday. "We got a rude reply back, and he made claims about being his own independent country in the Republic of Cyberbunker, and said he was not bound by any laws and whatnot. He also would sign his emails 'Prince of Cyberbunker Republic.' On Facebook, he even claimed that he had diplomatic immunity."
That response led Spamhaus to request that Cyberbunker's service provider, DataHouse, and ultimately its service provider, A2B Internet, block all of Cyberbunker's traffic. When they refused to do so, however, Spamhaus added both service providers to its spam-blocking list. Even as the service providers complied by blocking Cyberbunker's traffic, they decried what they saw as strong-arm tactics.
"Cyberbunker isn't even a customer of ours, but is rather a customer of DataHouse (who also has their own network and IP addresses) and to move up two ISPs and start complaining there is just insane," said A2B Internet director Erik Bais at the time. "On top of that, putting the IPs of that ISP on a blacklist to 'make your point' is something I don't have a good word for."
Ultimately, Stophaus last month launched a DDoS attack against Spamhaus. But both Stophaus and Cyberbunker soon found themselves at the receiving end of a DDoS attack that disrupted their own operations.
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