Police are warning hackers that they may be paid a visit if they purchase illegal tools used to conduct cyber-attacks.
Plain-clothed officers visited four men at properties in Spennymoor, Consett, Whitley Bay and Wallsend recently as part of ‘Operation Sentinel’ to warn people about their online activity.
This action comes as the three regional police forces: Durham, Northumbria and Cleveland launch Sentinel which targets serious and organised crime across the region.
The visits were carried out by officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) which is a collaboration between the three forces. One of their main aims is to prevent people from engaging in serious and organised criminality.
PC Gareth Judd of NERSOU’s Cyber Prevent team, said: “Nationally, more and more teenagers and young people are getting involved in cyber crime and our aim is to prevent this. Many do it for fun without realising the consequences of their actions – but the penalties can be severe.
“Our team aims to stop potential acceleration or escalation in cyber criminality or nefarious behaviour.
“Cyber crime isn’t a victimless crime and is taken extremely seriously by law enforcement. We want to make that clear.
“The individuals we visit are often involved in the illegal use and purchase of booters, stressers and DDoS tools, which stands for Distributed Denial of Service. This is a malicious attempt to make a server or a network resource unavailable to legitimate users, by overloading it with massive amounts of fake traffic.
“The emergence of DDoS has given criminals with little or no technical knowledge the ability to conduct attacks on individuals and organisations around the world.
“Many of our suspects are of a young age and are straying into the realms of the Computer Misuse Act. We want to educate them.
“Our visits are of a ‘cease and desist nature.’ We want to explain to the individuals that their activities have been tracked and highlighted, in some cases by multinational investigations incorporating various law enforcement agencies from different countries and if the offenders don’t heed police advice then we will pursue them.”
To learn more about NERSOU visit nersou.org.uk