Law enforcement agencies arrested 34 suspects in 13 countries, including the U.K and the U.S., as part of a crackdown last week on DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.
The arrests targeted buyers of DDoS-for-hire services, which get paid to flood websites or internet-connected systems with traffic, forcing them to go offline.
Law enforcement agencies also interviewed and warned another 101 suspects under the age of 20, the European Union police agency Europol said in a Monday statement.
Most buyers of DDoS-for-hire services use them to pull pranks, often in online gaming. For example, a flood of traffic can be sent to a rival player’s IP address, severing their internet connection to a game.
But DDoS attacks can also be used for more malicious purposes. For example, hackers have used them to shut down online businesses as part of extortion schemes.
In severe cases, gigantic DDoS attacks can be used to disrupt the internet all across a country,as in a bombardment against DNS service provider Dyn in October that slowed access to many popular websites in the U.S
As part of the crackdown, the FBI detained a 26-year-old in California named Sean Sharma, an alleged buyer of a DDoS-for-hire service. He was charged with launching an attack against a website belonging to an unnamed San Francisco-based chat service. If convicted, Sharma could face up to 10 years in prison, the FBI said in a statement.