An unrelated investigation by the Belgium police department has led them to discover that the suspect in the bombing of an established bank in the area, links to multiple counts of a cyber attack against the same bank; worse, they also found out that the man in question is part of an anonymous hacking group.
The unlikely story began when a 35-year-old man from the Belgian city of Roeselare was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail explosive at the Crelan Bank office in Rumbeke, a suburb of Roeselare, back in 2014. The suspect dropped a USB thumb drive in the process of throwing the home-made explosives that led to his capture, which enabled the police to track his identity by analyzing the contents of the storage device he recklessly left in the scene. He was identified in the court documents as Brecht S.
A penchant for cybercrimes
But lo and behold, recently, after concluding an in-depth analysis of the contents of the USB thumb drive and a series of home searches and investigation into Brecht’s background, Belgium police found out that the suspect is also responsible for a series of cybercrime attacks targeting banking institutions.
The police discovered that aside from throwing explosives, the suspect also has a penchant for cyber crimes — Brecht also launched DDoS attacks against Crelan’s e-banking portal, bringing the site down for hours on numerous occasions.
A DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a type of cyber attack where the attacker sends fraudulent and bot traffic in a magnitude beyond what a system can contain, to a server to freeze the performance of a service for a specific time.
During the trial, Brecht said that the reason for his DDoS attack against the Crelan Bank was the refusal of bank officials to meet with him to settle the loss of around €300,000 ($342,000) from her mother’s bank account, following her divorce from his father. The suspect justified his actions citing that it is his form of revenge from the losses his mother incurred involving the financial institution.
But that is not the end of Brecht’s penchant for hacking and cyber crimes. The investigators and the prosecution were also able to link him to an anonymous hacking group operating in Belgium called “Anonymous Belgium,” and to another cybercrime operation in the name of “Cyber Crew.” The prosecution said that Brecht participated in several cyber attack operations by the hacking groups, including one that targeted international football organization FIFA.
Furthermore, Brecht is also linked to a coordinated DDoS attack against an unnamed pizza restaurant, where he effectively shut down the online operations of the restaurant, including its websites. The suspect launched DDoS attacks against the restaurant and sent a ransom note demanding payments for the attacks to stop.
In the process of investigating Brecht, the police and the prosecution was also able to uncover the identities of some of his co-conspirators. One of the identified partners of the suspect is a 44-year-old man from Bruges who Brecht has exchanged hacking tools with, in the past, using Facebook.
Reports reveal that Brecht is going to face an 18-month prison sentence for the crimes he committed in the cyber world, including the DDoS attack against Crelan Bank. He is also ordered to pay €3,000 ($3,400) to the bank as compensation for the effects of the DDoS attack he launched against the institution that has temporarily paralyzed its operations online.
But 18 months of jail time is just for his cyber crimes. He was also sentenced to be imprisoned for three years about his molotov cocktail attack and arson against the Crelan Bank office. In total, he is expected to be in jail for four years and six months — a sentence which execution is delayed for Brecht to undergo psychological counseling in order to address his psych issues.