Schoolboy arrested over Spamhaus DDoS, world's biggest cyber attack

Filed Under: Denial of Service, Featured, Law & order

Spamhaus LogoIn March 2013, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack of unprecedented ferocity was launched against the servers of Spamhaus, an international non-profit dedicated to battling spam.

A DDoS is an attack wherein the servers of a targeted online service are slowed to a crawl with loads of pointless email or file uploads that clog up their processing ability.

The March Spamhaus attack peaked at 300 gigabits per second, Spamhaus CEO Steve Linford told the BBC at the time - the largest ever recorded, with enough force to cause worldwide disruption of the internet.

In April, one suspect was arrested in Spain.

Now, it's come to light, another suspect was also secretly arrested in April - this one being a London schoolboy.

The 16-year-old was arrested as part of an international dragnet against a suspected organised crime gang, reports the London Evening Standard.

Detectives from the National Cyber Crime Unit detained the unnamed teenager at his home in southwest London.

The newspaper quotes a briefing document on the British investigation, codenamed Operation Rashlike, about the arrest:

The suspect was found with his computer systems open and logged on to various virtual systems and forums. The subject has a significant amount of money flowing through his bank account. Financial investigators are in the process of restraining monies.

Officers seized his computers and mobile devices.

The boy’s arrest, by detectives from the National Cyber Crime Unit, followed an international police operation against those suspected of carrying out the massive cyber attack, which slowed down the internet worldwide.

The briefing document says that the DDoS affected services that included the London Internet Exchange.

The boy has been released on bail until later this year, the London Evening Standard reports.

The arrest follows close on the heels of two other London-based arrests resulting from international cyber-policing:

  • Last week's arrest of eight men in connection with a £1.3 million ($2.08 million) bank heist carried out with a remote-control device they had the brass to plug into a Barclays branch computer, and
  • The arrest of 12 men in connection with a scheme to boobytrap computers at Santander, one of the UK's largest banks, by rigging the same type of remote-control device found in Barclays - devices that enable remote bank robbery.

Truly, the UK isn't fooling around when it comes to cybercrime - a fact it's making clear with the robust work of the National Cyber Crime Unit, which itself will soon be rolled into the even more cybercrime-comprehensive arms of the National Crime Agency.

The National Crime Agency, due to launch 7 October, is going to comprise a number of distinct divisions: Organised Crime, Border Policing, Economic Crime, and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, on top of also housing the National Cyber Crime Unit.

If the recent arrests are any indication, it would seem that the UK's on the right track with cyber crime.

May cyber crooks, both the seasoned and the schoolboys, take heed.

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3 Responses to Schoolboy arrested over Spamhaus DDoS, world's biggest cyber attack

  1. fR · 739 days ago

    "National Crime Agency" ?

    Why does it sound like a government agency for the promoting of crime ?

    Now we need to set up a National Crime Prevention Agency too ?


  2. Eastern European Crime Gangs, an American named Andrew, a Swedish named Sven, a group of ISPs named STOPhaus, a British Teen, half the Chinese and Russian ISPs. All of these have been accused of being behind said attack. Finger-pointing evidence.

  3. mike · 735 days ago

    All they can catch is some 16 yr old kid?? Mainly because he has lots of money going into his account. Hmmm great detective work, lets see a 16 yr old kid who doesn't work and has money flowing in his account like there is no tomorrow. Wonder what tipped them off?

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.