Cyber Attacks from Hacktivist Groups Becoming More Potent

Share Article

Cyber Attacks from hacktivist groups becoming more potent. The second week of January showed a large spike in Denial of Service attacks designed to cripple or take out websites using armies of slave computers. The latest wave, driven by hacktivist group Anonymous, targeted the movie and recording industries, and even government offices like the FBI and Department of Justice. And the problem may be getting worse says Daily Safety Check™

ION Cannon downloads

If thousands of slaved computers can take down half a dozen major websites in a day, think what hundreds of thousands of computers can do.

The second week of January showed a large spike in Denial of Service attacks designed to cripple or take out websites using armies of computers. The latest wave, driven by hacktivist group Anonymous, targeted the movie and recording industries, and even government offices like the FBI and Department of Justice. And the problem may be getting worse, says Daily Safety Check™.

In the past, groups like Anonymous did not have the numbers to effectually take on the largest websites. “With the uproar caused by controversial SOPA and PIPA legislation, size may not be the limiting factor any more” says Jim McKenney, founder of Daily Safety Check™. "In early December, the Denial of Service software had only been downloaded a total of 46,000 times, in its entire existence. Just in the last two weeks it was downloaded 225,352 times." And interest does not appear to be slowing down. This new capacity gives groups like Anonymous the ability to confront targets that previously could shrug off such an attack, such as major E-Commerce sites, and suggests that future attacks may be more disruptive. According to Wikepedia the January 19th Attack by Anonymous was performed with a little over 5,635 people participating in the DDoS attack. "If thousands of slaved computers can take down half a dozen major websites in a day" says McKenney, "think what hundreds of thousands of computers can do."

In addition to voluntary downloads, many computers are added to botnets involuntarily through security weaknesses, even when they have anti-virus software installed. “Out of date software is one of the major weaknesses that hackers try to exploit,” explains McKenney, whose company alerts customers when their computers are being attacked, or vulnerable to attack. “Even those who agree with the agenda of a group like Anonymous would take exception to having their computer participate in attacking Amazon.com or the FBI.”

The attacks use an open source tool, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or “LOIC”, which causes computers to act as slave computers to a central command post and attack target computers. “The central command post is safe because it is not his or her computer attacking these websites, it’s yours,” explains McKenney.

What this means is that the capabilities of groups like Anonymous are rapidly growing. Where before activists computers would be used occasionally augmented by a small botnet, the base of botnet computers means that the threat is increasing as well.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Marco Stanich

Marco Stanich
Visit website