Six British teenagers were arrested for allegedly using hacker-for-hire services in an attempt to take down corporate websites.
The operation targeted users of an online service called Lizard Stresser, which offered to carry out "denial of service" attacks in exchange for Bitcoins, the U.K. National Crime Agency said. Among the companies hacked were Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The service was created by a hacking group known as Lizard Squad, the agency said. Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for disrupting Microsoft's Xbox and Sony PlayStation online services on Christmas Day.
"By paying a comparatively small fee, tools like Lizard Stresser can cripple businesses financially and deprive people of access to important information and public services," said Tony Adams, head of investigations at the NCA's cybercrime unit.
Cybercriminals are selling increasingly sophisticated viruses and hacking services online while police are hampered by the use of cryptocurrencies and anonymous servers to avoid detection.
The arrests took place in Manchester, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Stockport between Aug. 24 and 27. All the suspects were male and between 15 and 18 years old, the NCA said.
While the agency didn't name the targeted websites, an online database identified Amazon, Microsoft and Sony as targets. The NCA didn't say whether the attacks were successful.
U.K. spokesmen for Sony and Amazon didn't immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment. Microsoft declined to immediately comment.
Lizard Stresser used a network of infected computers and routers to flood websites with data which can take them offline or damage servers.
British police arrested an 18-year-old man in January in connection to the Christmas Day attacks on Xbox and PlayStation services.