This week, the Düsseldorf criminal court severely punished a resident, whose name was not released, for an attempt to extort €2,500 ($3,700) from each of the six leading online sportsbooks in Germany.
The apprentice hacker, a German national, came up with a half-baked scheme to threaten six of the largest German sportsbooks with a computer based DDoS attack during the 2010 Football World Cup. Unfamiliar with the technology himself, he rented a botnet from a leading Russian hacker for $65 per day.
A botnet interlinks dozens, hundreds or thousands of internet connected computers controlled remotely by a hacker. When thousands of computers are ordered to simultaneously send endless streams of useless information to a website, the target becomes overwhelmed and unreachable by web users. This is a DDoS attack.
According to online gambling news in Germany, such an attack would have effectively shut down all six sportsbook. The companies would have suffered millions of euros in lost online wagers and opportunities as well as a heavy blow to their reputations.
The hacker, who was convicted this week of extortion and computer sabotage under German gambling laws, gave the six German sportsbooks an ultimatum and an easy way out. If each casino would only pay €2,500 ($3,700) then the hacker wouldn’t destroy their businesses.
It suddenly becomes painfully clear how diluted this ‘hacker’ must have been to ask for such a measly chunk of change from a sportsbook that earns this each and every second during the Football Word Cup. A few years back, a gang of professional Russian hackers successfully extorted 4 million from a UK sportsbook following the same script.
Three of the sportsbook agreed to pay while the other three would not budge even after the price was discounted to €1,000.
Earlier this month, a German court sentenced a pair of gangster to only 5 years in prison for fixing 200+ football games while making millions in profits.
In addition to a 35 month prison sentence, the hapless hacker was ordered to pay a €350,000 ($504,000) in damages to the sportsbook.
The European Union has introduced an even harsher set of laws to give police and prosecutors even more to teeth to investigate, arrest, and prosecute cybercriminals.