Was 'World's Biggest Cyberattack' Caused by a Schoolboy?

It sounds like the premise of a movie: a 16-year-old London schoolboy arrested for alleged involvement in what was called the "world's biggest cyberattack."

The London Evening Standard reported that detectives from Britain's National Cyber Crime Unit noticed "significant sums of money…flowing through [the boy's] bank account."

When the officials arrived at the boy's house this past April, he was logged in to "various virtual systems and forums," according to an internal police briefing document seen by the Evening Standard. The officials worked through the night to secure the information on his systems, according to the official document.

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The boy's arrest may have been part of an international investigation, dubbed "Operation Rashlike," into an organized cybercrime gang.

The investigation is also linked to a March 2013 incident briefly known in the media as the "world's biggest cyberattack."

It began when a squabble between two European-based Internet entities escalated to such a massive scale that the Internet temporarily slowed down in parts of Europe.

The involved parties were Spamhaus, a Swiss anti-spam organization, and CyberBunker, a Dutch Web-hosting service.

CyberBunker's open-door policies attract unsavory clients, such as spammers and other shady marketers, so Spamhaus blacklisted it. CyberBunker wasn't happy about that.

In March, Spamhaus became the target of ever-increasing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which flooded its website with so much random information that its servers were slowed and its website was eventually knocked offline.

The alleged culprit behind the DDoS attacks was an anti-Spamhaus group called Stophaus. Stophaus's spokesman, a Dutchman named Sven Olaf Kamphuis, was one of the founders of CyberBunker.

Over a single week, Stophaus carried out a series of attacks: first, against Spamhaus itself; then Spamhaus' network-reliability provider, CloudFlare; and on March 23, several of CloudFlare's regional bandwidth providers, causing the Internet to slow down in England, the Netherlands and northern Germany.

At one point, the attacks amounted to 300 gigabits of data per second — a new DDoS record.

In April, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice announced that it had arrested a man in Spain, identified only by the initials SK, for alleged involvement in these attacks.

It has not yet been confirmed whether SK and Kamphuis are the same person, but the 16-year-old London schoolboy also might have been involved in the cyberattacks against Stophaus.

At the Black Hat security conference in July, CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince said the mastermind behind the Spamhaus attack was not Kamphuis, but a teenager in Britain.

Prince said he could not disclose more at the time.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.