WSJ: Gamers Responsible for DDOS Attack (10/24/16)
So, I'm not a techie by any means... I attended LAN parties in school with some super nerdy kids who were really ****ing good with computers. So good, in fact, that one kid received a bad grade from our art teacher (who was this hairy, stinky, feminist type) so he somehow managed to get into the school's database and erase everyone's submitted grades for the semester.
He spent the rest of the year at the alternative school. Last I saw, he was working for some IT security firm.
Outside of knowing someone who knows how to do that, this all seems absolutely insane:
The computerized attack that left more than 1,200 websites unreachable on Friday stemmed from efforts, years earlier, by players of online games to frustrate and slow their opponents, security experts say. The massive denial-of-service attack was launched from thousands of internet-connected devices, including cameras, video recorders and routers. It overwhelmed computer servers at Dynamic Network Services Inc., also known as Dyn, which plays a crucial role in connecting users to websites. Popular sites including Twitter Inc. and Netflix Inc. were unreachable for parts of Friday. On Saturday, Dyn said the attack had ended, though it continued to investigate the causes.
Several security experts say the computer instructions for the attack had been refined from code written by disaffected videogame players calling themselves Lizard Squad who launched attacks on Christmas Day 2014 against online-game services operated by Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Since then, the experts said, the code and hacking techniques have been passed around and made more powerful.
Friday’s attackers used it to seize control of devices connected to the internet, many with weak security, and assemble them into an online army, or “botnet.” Both the code, and the botnet, used in Friday’s attack are called “Mirai.” “These guys just started off as ‘booters’…just kick your enemy off the videogame you’ve been playing,” said Gary Warner, director of research with the Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “As the gaming companies came after the booters, they created Lizard Squad to come after the gaming companies.” Mr. Warner and others say there is no single creator of Mirai. Rather, it is essentially an open-source project that has gradually been refined from tools built by Lizard Squad and others.
Allison Nixon, a researcher with internet-security firm Flashpoint, said the attackers have “refined really, really clever ways of hurting people over the internet.” Today, there is a vibrant underground marketplace of so-called “booter” or “stresser” services that allow anyone to attack a computer on the internet. One service, NetStress.org, sells packages for as little as $6.99 that let purchasers launch denial-of-service attacks for 30 days. Law-enforcement agencies are trying to keep up.
On Sept. 8, Israeli police arrested two 18 year olds, Itay Huri and Yarden Bidani, on suspicion of operating a company called vDOS that sold denial-of-service attacks and earned the pair more than $600,000 over the past two years, according to lawyers for the two teenagers. Messrs. Bidani and Huri became friends about four years ago after meeting on an internet-game website, the lawyers said.
They began operating vDOS when they were about 14, the lawyers said. vDOS marketed its product as a way for companies to check the security of their own websites by launching denial-of-service attacks against themselves, the lawyers said.
Lawyers for Messrs. Bidani and Huri said it wasn't their clients’ fault if customers used the product irresponsibly. They were placed under house arrest on Sept. 9, but were released 10 days later after a judge deemed that the police had insufficient evidence to charge them, the lawyers said. Israel’s police force referred questions to the Ministry of Justice, which declined to comment on the arrests.
In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month charged two 19-year-olds, Zachary Buchta of Fallston, Md., and Bradley Van Rooy of the Netherlands, with conspiring to damage computers in four attacks in 2015 as part of the Lizard Squad group. An attorney for Mr. Buchta didn’t respond to requests for comment. An attorney for Mr. Van Rooy couldn’t be reached.
For now, no one has been publicly identified as the source of Friday’s attacks, but security experts believe that they may have come in response to public statements by Dyn employees about the Mirai botnet and firms that work with the denial-of-service-for-hire companies.
“I believe somebody’s feelings got hurt and that we’re dealing with the impact,” said Brian Krebs, a security blogger, who was the target of a separate, possibly larger, denial-of-service attack last month. “We’re dealing with young teenagers who are holding the internet for ransom.”