In coordination with Europol’s European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3), the FBI conducted a series of interviews and arrests Dec. 5-9 aimed at reducing the number of young people acting as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)-for-hire hackers.

“DDoS tools are among the many specialized cyber crime services available for hire that may be used by professional criminals and novices alike,” said Steve Kelly, FBI unit chief of the International Cyber Crime Coordination Cell (IC4). “While the FBI is working with our international partners to apprehend and prosecute sophisticated cyber criminals, we also want to deter the young from starting down this path.”

Law enforcement agencies participated from Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the combined effort led to 34 arrests and 101 suspects interviewed and cautioned.

The effort mainly targeted hackers under 20 who were suspected of paying for services that would maliciously flood an online target with so much data that users would be unable to gain access. The operation also marks the kick-start of a campaign in all participating countries to raise awareness of young people getting involved in cyber crime and to point those people toward positive outlets for their hacking skills.

“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cyber crime,” said Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). “Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cyber crime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry. One of the key priorities of law enforcement should be to engage with these young people to prevent them from pursuing a criminal path, helping them understand how they can use their skills for a more constructive purpose.”

Europol also identified that young hackers are most likely to be responsible for crimes in which they hack to take control or information from a computer, create or use malware and viruses, and carry out DDos attacks.

“No law enforcement agency or country can defeat cyber crime alone,” an FBI statement said. “This demands a collective global approach.”

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Jessie Bur
Jessie Bur
Jessie Bur is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Cybersecurity, FedRAMP, GSA, Congress, Treasury, DOJ, NIST and Cloud Computing.