Dutch police have confirmed the takedown of 15 DDoS-for-hire services and the arrest of one individual suspected of launching a distributed denial-of-service attack against websites that send government updates to citizens. The websites held information about the coronavirus and personal data.
The March 19 attack targeted MijnOverheid.nl and Overheid.nl, both of which were unavailable for several hours as they were bombarded with traffic, officials reported. Dutch citizens rely on Overheid.nl for communications from the government, including updates on COVID-19 and emergency regulations. MijnOverheid is described as a "digital letterbox" through which citizens receive government messages about tax returns, for example, or childcare benefits. It also contains personal information, such as registration with the municipality, officials explain.
In addition to making this arrest, Center Netherlands police last week took down 15 DDoS-for-hire services, or "booters." Attackers commonly buy DDoS attacks from booters, which sell clients an infrastructure of mostly hacked machines to flood their target with traffic. In most cases, the police report, selling and using booters is a criminal offense. Many DDoS attackers don't realize this, they explain, because DDoS attacks are often conducted by young people who are motivated by boredom or the challenge of conducting a successful DDoS campaign.
"With preventive actions, we want to protect people as much as possible against DDoS attacks," said Jeroen Niessen, head of the Central Netherlands Police cybercrime team, in a release on the news. "By taking booters and their domain names offline, we make it difficult for cyber criminals. We have now put quite a few on black. If they pop up elsewhere, we will immediately work on it again. Our goal is to seize more and more booters."
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