The U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) has taken a unique approach to combatting online crime by creating a network of counterfeit DDoS-for-hire websites. This method is akin to setting a thief to catch a thief, as the NCA intends to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the internet.
According to the National Crime Agency, the sites operated by NCA have been visited by thousands of people and have been designed to mimic the appearance of platforms that offer services for executing cyber attacks. These sites are intended to deceive cybercriminals into using them for their nefarious activities.
Following user registration, their data is compiled by investigators instead of granting access to tools for cyber crime activities.
Collaborating with authorities from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the U.S., and Europol, Operation PowerOFF is an ongoing international initiative aimed at dismantling criminal DDoS-for-hire infrastructures across the globe.
Renting out access to a network of compromised devices, DDoS-for-hire services (also known as “Booter” or “Stresser”) cater to criminal actors who wish to carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against websites and render them inoperable. These services can easily be accessed via hyperlinks.
Illicit websites present various tiers of membership to their customers, with fees ranging from $10 up to $2,500 per month.
Back in December 2022, the National Crime Agency (NCA) acknowledged that the ease of access provided by various tools and services has made it simpler for individuals with limited cyber skills to conduct illegal activities. During a well-coordinated operation, the NCA was able to bring down 48 booter sites, as reported by The Hacker News.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has made it clear that it won’t disclose the total number of sites it’s currently running. This move has been made to force potential users to weigh the risk involved before engaging with such services in the future.
According to Alan Merrett, a member of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, booter services play a critical role in facilitating cybercrime. This statement was made in a recent press release.
“Due to the perceived anonymity and user-friendly nature of DDoS services, cybercriminals are increasingly drawn to this form of entry-level crime. Even those with limited technical skills can commit cyber offenses with ease, making it a popular choice for many individuals.”
During June 2021, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) disclosed that they administered an encrypted chat platform named ANoM for around three years. The intention was to intercept 27 million messages that were shared among criminal gang members all over the world.