Shropshire Star

Shropshire cyber attack: Student who targeted county firm to be sentenced for world-wide offences

A student who ran a web business supplying malware that was used to attack the accounts of a Shropshire business as well as some of the world’s leading companies is due to be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court next month.

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Jack Chappell helped cyber crooks attack millions of websites around the world, including a 2015 attack on NatWest that brought down the firm’s online banking systems.

His Dark Web enterprise offered Bronze, Silver, Gold and VIP hack packages on a sliding price scale depending on the severity of damage customers wanted to inflict on target websites.

The 18-year-old supplied Denial of Service (DoS) software that crashes websites by flooding them with huge volumes of data.

He even offered an online helpdesk as part of the operation which meant people with little or no IT knowledge could launch crippling digital attacks at the push of a button.

But Chappell, from Stockport in Greater Manchester, also conducted thousands of web assaults himself aimed at companies including T-Mobile, EE, Vodafone, O2, BT, Amazon, Netflix and Virgin Media, plus the BBC and National Crime Agency.

Cyber detectives from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) picked up the investigation after a small firm in Shropshire offering educational tutoring packages was hit by vDos malware.

The enquiry uncovered a network of vDos co-conspirators around the world − including in the USA and Israel − and led officers to identify Chappell as the lead UK-based agent.

Police raided Chappell’s home, where he lived with his parents, on October 11 last year and seized the battered computer hard-drive he used to conduct high-tech online attacks from his bedroom.

Forensic analysis of the computer and other electrical devices revealed evidence linking him to an account on vDos plus online chat with two men from Israel and another from the US who are accused of involvement in the "cyber vandalism" ring.

Chappell later admitted Computer Misuse Act offences, plus encouraging or assisting an offence and money laundering his crime proceeds.

The investigation was led by the West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit, assisted by Israeli Police, the FBI and Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.

* This story has been updated to reflect the fact that sentencing, which had been expected on September 13, has been adjourned to October 27.

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