Two Israeli Teens Likely to Be Charged With Running $1.2 Million Cybercrime Operation

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A hacker at their computer (illustrative).
A hacker at their computer (illustrative).Credit: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Police are nearing the end of their investigation into a pair of Israeli hackers who allegedly caused damage estimated at 6 million shekels ($1.6 million), and predict that indictments will be filed against them soon.

Based on information received from the FBI last September, the Israeli police arrested Itay Huri and another suspected hacker whose name is under a gag order.

The suspects, both aged 18, are suspected of hawking software that can bring down websites to various clients around the world, allegedly earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

The prosecution recently sent their lawyers a letter noting that the suspects have a right to a hearing before any indictments are filed.

The hackers are suspected of running an online service called vDos, through which clients can rent software that launches distributed denial of service attacks. DDoS attacks overload the targeted website to the point where it collapses.

The hackers would hawk their wares to almost anyone, with the exception of clients who wanted to target Israeli websites. The case was first reported by cyber investigator and blogger Brian Krebs.

According to a source involved in the investigation, the probe has taken an unusually long time because of pressure from the FBI and also because the Swedish government is involved in the case.

The two teens have been out on bail the entire time and are even free to travel abroad, though liens have been put on their bank accounts.

Initially, the teens collected their fees via online payments system PayPal. But after their accounts were blocked, they switched to demanding payment in Bitcoins.

The likely charges against the pair include fraud, extortion and violating various laws concerning computer crime.

The prosecution’s letter to the teens’ attorneys stressed that no decision has yet been made on whether to indict them. If such a decision is made, a second letter will be sent, at which point the defense attorneys will also receive the evidence file.

But sources involved in the case said the chances of the teens being indicted are very high.

The teens’ attorneys claim they were selling legitimate protective software, and that the buyers were companies seeking to test how easily their own sites became overloaded so they could protect themselves against DDoS attacks.

“All our client did was create a protect that protects companies,” said a statement by Perach Aroch and Matan Sadan, representing the teen whose name is under a gag order.

Maayan Haymovich, representing Huri, accused the police of “exerting pressure and sowing fear via the media instead of getting to the truth.”

Contrary to the police’s claim that indictments are likely, she said, the prosecution hasn’t even set a date for a pre-indictment hearing, “and it’s doubtful one will be set.

“Moreover, the investigation will continue in the coming days, so I don’t understand how, at the height of the investigation, statements are scattered in the wind as if a decision had already been made.”

The police declined to comment.

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