Teen held in cyberattack on government sites during pandemic response
A 19-year-old man from Breda accused of taking down two government websites on March 19 was arrested by police on Friday. The suspect was suspected of using a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyberattack to take down overheid.nl and mijnoverheid.nl, which were offline for several hours because of the incident, police said.
Information website Overheid.nl "was and is frequently visited because of the corona crisis. The availability of this site to citizens is crucial for the country, especially during these times," police said.
The government uses Mijnoverheid.nl to communicate with citizens via a digital mailbox. “By dropping a website like this, you are denying citizens access to their personal data and important government information. We take this very seriously, especially now that the corona crisis is causing additional uncertainty and a great need for information for many people," said Jeroen Niessen. Niessen heads the cybercrime team at the Central Netherlands district of the police.
His team specializes in investigating and combating DDoS attacks, which bombard website servers with mounting requests and information until the sites crash.
The investigation also led authorities to take down 15 different websites in a single week where DDoS attacks may be bought and sold. “With preventive actions, we want to protect people as much as possible against DDoS attacks," Niessen said.