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Men Arrested at Heathrow Airport for Blackmailing Online Casino, DDOS Attacks

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Aug/12/2013
Men Arrested at Heathrow Airport for Blackmailing Online Casino, DDOS Attacks

Two Polish men were arrested at Heathrow Airport last week, suspected of blackmailing the Club World Casino website and forcing it offline August 2 via a Denial of Service attack.  Such attacks result in massive pockets of worthless traffic directed at a target website, causing said site to be knocked offline. 

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The men, Piotr Smirnaw, 31, and Patryk Surmacki, 35, are in custody and are being questioned.  Both are accused of blackmailing the online casino, which remained offline for nearly 36 hours. 

“Denial of service attacks have become increasingly common offenses in recent years and can have a devastating effect on the victim’s on-line business or presence,” said Detective Inspector Chris Mossop of the Greater Manchester police’s Serious Crime Division.  “They involve offenders flooding the target website with information, rendering it unable to function as it should do.”

But DDOS attacks became commonplace in the multi-billion dollar online gambling beginning in the early 2000’s.  The Gambling911.com website itself was among the earliest targets back in 2002.

Since that time, companies have cropped up specializing in the prevention of such attacks. In some ways, the Internet gambling sector provided a test case for Web criminals and DDOS prevention companies alike as a more vulnerable target field increased in scope.

Companies such as Defense.net have invested nearly $10 million in technologies to help prevent DDOS attacks.

"A decade ago, small scale DDoS attacks by today's standards shut down off-shore cyber casinos for extortion purposes, but now political hacktivists and foreign government backed 'cyber fighters' such as Izz ad-Din al-Qassam are attacking critical infrastructure of the U.S., including financial institutions, utilities, telcos, Internet hosting facilities, and state government," said Barrett Lyon, founder of Defense.net. "Although much of this critical infrastructure uses traditional DDoS mitigation solutions, every week brings reports of sites, applications, and services brought down by attacks that are now significantly more sophisticated and 16X larger than just one year ago; clearly the techniques we developed in 2003 don't work for global banks today."

Interpol and other law enforcement agencies do take these crimes seriously.

In 2006, a gang of Russian hackers were sentenced in a UK court to eight years for their role in a DDOS ring that netted $4 million from online betting firms through blackmail. 

Ivan Maksakov, Alexander Petrov, and Denis Stepanov were each forced to pay a $3,700 fine.

The betting firm Canbet.com admitted to losing more than $200,000 during the Breeders Cup races at that time after refusing to pay a $10,000 ransom. 

Russian authorities worked with the UK National High Tech Crime Unit, Interpol, and FBI at the time to apprehend the gang.

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

 

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