Security

Brit teen accused of running malware factory and helpdesk for crims

Lad cuffed after worldwide manhunt leads cops to parents' home in Stockport, UK

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

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A British teenager is accused of flogging and supporting malware used to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against top multinationals.

Jack Chappell, 18, from Stockport in Cheshire, appeared before Manchester magistrates on Tuesday charged with impairing the operation of computers under the UK's Computer Misuse Act, encouraging or assisting an offense, and money laundering crime proceeds. An unnamed US citizen has also been charged.

In a statement, West Midlands police said Chappell allegedly developed and sold malware designed to knock victims' systems offline, and ran an online helpdesk for criminals using the software nasty. Such malware-as-a-service offerings are becoming increasingly common online.

The code allegedly built by Chappell was apparently used in attacks against cellphone networks T‑Mobile, EE, Vodafone and O2 in the UK, as well as strikes on the BBC, BT, Amazon, Netflix, Virgin Media and the National Crime Agency.

"None of the denial of service attacks Chappell is alleged to have been behind led to the theft or loss of any customer data," the cyber-plod said.

Attacking the UK's National Crime Agency is the online equivalent of kicking a hornet's nest. Officers launched an international investigation involving police forces, the FBI, Israeli Police, and Europol's European Cybercrime Centre. Chapell was arrested at his parents' home.

The teen spoke only to confirm his name and address during this week's court hearing. The case will begin later this month. ®

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