We know what you DDoSed last summer

Dutch police have sent warning letter to people who bought DDoS-fo-hire services

Dutch police have sent warning letters to 29 individuals who purchased services from a DDoS-for-hire website.

The caution was sent to customers of the website www.minesearch.rip, where illegal Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were sold.

Recipients are being told in no uncertain terms that what they did was criminal. They are not being prosecuted on this occasion, but the authorities warn that the notice should be taken as a final warning that if an individual becomes tied up in similar malfeasance in future, then a criminal prosecution will follow.

Legitimate alternatives

Recipients of the letter – individuals who have dipped their toes into the murky world of cybercrime – are being encouraged to explore alternative, legitimate routes to learning about computer security and related topics. Various sites including a Dutch police site (https://publicaties.politie.nl/changeyourgame) and that of a well know security conference (https://www.hackthebox.eu) are offered as suggestions.

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The warning letters to local customers of minesearch.rip follows the earlier takedown of the service and arrest of two 19 year-old suspects back in July 2020. Computer equipment seized during arrests was submitted to forensic examination and the police investigation of the case remains ongoing, as explained in a Dutch-language police statement on the latest action.

The police investigation was prompted by a report from a game server that was the victim of a DDoS attack originating from minesearch.rip. The same so-called booter service has been linked to dozens of similar reports from other companies and authorities.

‘Pragmatic approaches’

Eddy Willems, a cybersecurity expert at anti-malware firm G Data, commented: “Personally, I would have taken action against them without sending the warning. Maybe the police force knows that the DDoS criminals are very young and is taking that in account. But seriously, the warnings are a strange strategy IMHO.”

However, security researcher Martijn Grooten was more positive about the Dutch police approach. “I don't know enough details of this case to comment, but I'm all for pragmatic approaches that avoid treating kids as criminals,” Grooten commented on Twitter.

The minesearch.rip. action marks the latest in a series of attempts made by Dutch authorities to clamp down on cybercrime. For example, in April last year Dutch police took down 15 DDoS-for-hire platforms.

One common route into cybercrime is when gamers figure out how to turf rivals out of a game through launching a DDoS attack, before realizing that the same facility can be rebadged as a booter service and sold via cybercrime marketplaces or marketed through social media apps, such as Telegram.

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