A British police investigation into the massive DDoS attack against internet watchdog Spamhaus has led to the arrest of a 16-year-old London schoolboy who, it is claimed, is part of an international gang of cyber-crooks.
"The suspect was found with his computer systems open and logged on to various virtual systems and forums," says the police document shown to the London Evening Standard. "The subject has a significant amount of money flowing through his bank account. Financial investigators are in the process of restraining monies."
The young miscreant was arrested in April at the same time as a 35 year-old Dutchman (thought to be Sven Kamphuis – the owner of hosting firm Cyberbunker) as part of an investigation into the Spamhaus attack by British police dubbed Operation Rashlike. The arrest was kept secret, and the boy has been released on bail pend a trial later in the year.
The police document states that the Spamhaus attack in March was the "largest DDoS attack ever seen," and claims the performance of the London Internet Exchange was hard hit. The attack caused "worldwide disruption of the functionality" of the internet, it states.
Certainly the attack was a biggie. On March 18, Spamhaus and its networking partner CloudFlare started getting DDoSed at around 90Gbps. When that failed to take the site offline, the attackers went upstream to ISPs and internet exchanges in Amsterdam and London (even El Reg's own Trevor Pott inadvertently took part), and by March 22 over 300Gbps was hitting the Spamhaus servers.
But despite the hype, the attack didn't seriously interrupt the flow of internet data. The London Internet Exchange reported "minor amount of collateral congestion in a small portion of our network," and Spamhaus' services weren't seriously disrupted.
"Only the website and our email server were affected," Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told El Reg. "All Spamhaus DNSBL [DNS Block List] services continued to run unaffected throughout the attack. In fact Spamhaus DNSBLs have never once been down since we started them in 2001."
Spamhaus is more targeted than most because of the work it does. The organization compiles lists of ISPs, domains, and email servers that are known spammers so service providers can block off huge chunks of incoming emails offering fake Viagra tablets, dodgy dating, and malware.
In 2011 Spamhaus temporarily blacklisted Dutch hosting firm Cyberbunker, which allows customers to use its services for absolutely anything "except child porn and anything related to terrorism." Cyberbunker denied responsibility and claimed Spamhaus was acting as a internet vigilante, although it appears Cyberlocker's owner may have taken a more direct approach against the watchdog.
Quite how a 16-year-old schoolboy got mixed up in all this remains to be seen. Certainly shifting large amounts of cash through a teenager's bank account isn't the smartest move in the criminal playbook, but it wouldn't be the first time such basic mistakes have led to arrests.