Dutch authorities have arrested a 16-year-old boy suspected of being involved in the recent Anonymous distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against MasterCard and PayPal.
The Dutch Attorney General announced [Google translation] that Anonymous’ Operation Payback attacks were traced back to the Netherlands, which prompted an investigation from the National High Tech Crime.
The probe eventually led police to a 16-year-old boy, who hasn’t been named, but is said to have already confessed to his involvement. He is expected to appear before a judge in Rotterdam today.
It’s unlikely that the suspect was simply one of the many volunteer participants in the DDoS attacks, or that he was the only one from The Netherlands. His role in the operation was probably more important.
It’s worth noting that the group’s anonops.net website was hosted in the country and has been down since yesterday, so there is possibly a connection there. Police also mentioned seizing computers and other equipment.
According to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos, there are also local reports that authorities have visited the offices of LeaseWeb and EvoSwitch, two hosting companies believed be used by the hacktivist group.
A lot of people who take part in Anonymous DDoS campaigns are aware that what they’re doing is illegal in most countries. However, they believe that their large number offers them protection against identification and prosecution.
Nevertheless, there have been previous arrests and convictions related to attacks launched by the group. Dmitriy Guzner, 19, from Verona, New Jersey, and Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, 20, of Grand Island, Nebraska, have been sentenced to one year in prison each for their roles in the 2008 Anonymous DDoS attacks against the Church of Scientology.
At the end of November this year, Steve Slayo, 19, from Roxburgh Park, Australia, pleaded guilty to launching DDoS attacks against governmental websites and inciting others to do the same, as part of Anonymous' Operation Titstorm.