Police have arrested a former executive at conservative media group Intereconomía and three computer experts for launching online attacks against the Spanish public relations news website, PR Noticias.
Luis Sans is alleged to have hired hackers to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on prnoticias.com, a media industry news site which went down for three weeks as the result of the coordinated action and lost an estimated €425,000 as a result.
A 14-month investigation – in collaboration with the FBI and Canadian authorities – led to the arrests in the provinces of Madrid and Tarragona. The president of Grupo Intereconomía, Julio Ariza, was called in for questioning but was not arrested, police sources said. According to investigators, the perpetrators of the DDoS attacks used infrastructure scattered across the globe, which made it very difficult to stop the cyber-crime and to locate its origin.
Eventually, the probe uncovered evidence that a Spanish businessman may have been behind the attack. Sans allegedly made periodic payments to three individuals with sophisticated computer knowledge and access to a botnet, a network of connected programs that can flood the target server with requests, saturating the system and rendering it useless.