Hacker jailed for DDoS attacks on Skype, Google

DDoS attack

A hacker has been jailed for two years after he used DDoS botnets to bring down Skype and Google.

As well as taking down the tech companies through DDoS attacks, Alex Bessell also created his own "deep web" business called Aiobuy, which sold harmful viruses to other hackers for thousands of dollars.

The 21-year-old from Liverpool (reportedly from Aigburth) sold a range of criminal software to more than 26,000 registered customers through the business, including remote administration tools, botnet tools, crypters, booter access and other malware, generating over $700,000 from 35,000 transactions.

A lengthy investigation by the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit discovered that Bessell also controlled more than 9,000 computers, which he used to carry out 102 DDoS attacks on high profile tech companies including Skype and Google. He also stole usernames and passwords of 750 internet users during his time operating his illegal business.

“This is one of the most significant cybercrime prosecutions we’ve seen: he was offering an online service for anyone wanting to carry out a web attack," said DC Mark Bird, from the West Midlands Cybercrime Unit.

“It meant anyone who had a grudge against an individual or company, or who simply wanted to conduct a cyber-attack, didn’t need the technical know-how themselves. They simply needed to pick a piece of malware, pay the fee, and Bessell would do the rest."

Bessell admitted to committing 10 offences including unauthorised access to computers, impairing the operation of computers, making and supplying malware and money laundering.

“In the past we have seen hackers escape with suspended prison sentences or even community orders but courts are increasingly switching onto the damage cyber crooks can wreak. They can destroy businesses and cause huge financial distress for people and families," Bird added.

“Anyone who is using their technical expertise for sinister motives needs to sit up and take notice of this sentence – because they face a very real risk of being jailed.”

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.