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Computer hackers

Hong Kong man arrested in international crackdown on Webstresser hacking syndicate

Suspect, 26, thought to be customer of world’s largest platform for cyberattacks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 1:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2018, 3:26pm

A Hong Kong man was arrested this week during a transnational crackdown on the world’s biggest global hacking syndicate, police revealed on Friday. 

The 26-year-old suspect, surnamed Lai, was thought to be a customer of the ring and to have subscribed to its cyberattack services. He was arrested in Aberdeen, on the south of Hong Kong Island.

Hacking platform Webstresser, which offered paid distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to its 136,000 registered users, was shut down on Wednesday as Hong Kong police joined counterparts in countries including the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, the US, Canada, Croatia and Serbia.

DDoS attacks flood a web server with traffic to slow down or take down a website or machine. The platform had reportedly orchestrated more than 4 million attacks.

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Webstresser, which had servers in the Netherlands, Germany and the US, offered plans costing from US$18.99 to US$999.

“Upon payment, members could choose up to 14 different types of denial-of service-attack, then attack the website or online service, with the strength and length of the attack depending on the plan chosen,” police said in a statement.

The ring’s core members were scattered across the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, Croatia and Serbia, while one customer lived in Hong Kong.

Acting on intelligence, officers from the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau arrested Lai in his Aberdeen flat on Wednesday for “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent”. Officers also seized three computers, a mobile phone and a router.

Lai was released on bail pending further investigation. 

Foreign media reported that at least four administrators of the platform were also arrested in various countries.

Webstresser’s website was on Friday no longer operational, the homepage displaying a warning notice saying the site had been seized by criminal investigators working for the US Department of Defence.

“The domain name Webstresser.org has been seized by the United States Department of Defence … in accordance with a warrant issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia,” the page read.