Are Mischievous Kids Responsible For Most DoS Attacks And Bots?

imageI frequently read the comments posted to other blogs, and tech forums. It’s an elementary way for me to keep in the loop on what others are thinking, relative to their computing experiences.

Often, I’ll find a bit of helpful wisdom in a comment – but, from time to time, I’ll come across a comment that just rubs me the wrong way.

For example – what’s wrong with the following point of view?

“Most of the Denial of Service attacks and other similar “bots” are written by 10 to 14 year old kids that are just being mischievous or looking for some acknowledgement from their peers”.

Other than the fact that’s it’s fanciful thinking (which is statistically unsupportable), it underplays, or ignores, more than a few basic realities:

Cyber crime has evolved dramatically from the days when it took little effort to be a hacker. The days when antimalware applications were either non-existent, or crude.

Organized crime is  the major player in the cyber criminal field. Money is the motivation – economic gain is the driver.

Cyber crime is a multi-billion dollar industry that encompasses identity theft, monetary theft, social and personal scams, extortion, industrial espionage, state-sponsored espionage, and more.

Today’s malware is sophisticated, extremely dangerous, difficult to identify and remove – and coded by experts who are as talented, if not more so in some cases, as any who are employed in legitimate enterprise.

On the face of it, you may think that this point of view is harmless – but that’s questionable. At the very least, this type of statement helps to perpetuate the myth that hacking, and cyber crime, is essentially an activity engaged in by “kids that are just being mischievous”.

The unassailable reality is – highly organized cyber criminal gangs ransack computers, and computer networks, for data that can be used for criminal purposes – not ten to fourteen year children, or older teenagers, seeking a badge of honor.

Surprisingly, it has been my experience that a lower level computer user is more likely to believe this myth, than not. Little wonder that cyber crime ( carried out by committed professional criminals), is rampant on the Internet, when the real perpetrators are seen by some computer users as little more than wispy netherworld figures that may – or may not – exist.

Something to think about – Do teenage hackers exist in any significant number? More to the point – do they constitute a threat to your security on the Internet?

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12 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Myths, Online Safety, Opinion, Point of View, Windows Tips and Tools

12 responses to “Are Mischievous Kids Responsible For Most DoS Attacks And Bots?

  1. Pingback: Are Mischievous Kids Responsible For Most DoS Attacks And Bots … | dos

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Back in the early days it probably was pimply faced teenagers who were primarily responsible for those attacks. But as you rightly point out, cybercriminals figured out there is zillions to be made by getting the malware game, and now they reign supreme. No doubt the pimply faced teenagers still exist, but now they have somewhere to graduate to, that is cybercrime.
    It will get worse before it gets better, I suspect.
    Cheers

    • Hi Mal,

      I agree. Back when we were young and systems were relatively simply and most importantly, lacked security sophistication, there were hacking challenges galore. But times have long since changed. As you say organized cybercriminals now “reign supreme”.

      Yes, the pimply faced teenage wannabe hacker is still out there; in limited numbers. But they are hackers by proxy, and not by intuition or training, They simple buy their hacks on the cybercriminal black market, or download prepared kits which are generally written by professional cybercriminals.

      Good to hear from you.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Bill,
    Great article and your point is right-on. Internet users who minimize the cybercrime threat by imagining that it’s done by teenage pranksters should stop smoking whatever it is that’s clouding their judgment. In fact, It wouldn’t surprise me if the cybercrime organizations weren’t behind this “teenager hacker” story in order to lower our defenses, so to speak.
    Once again, I’m in your corner.
    Best,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      Your point “It wouldn’t surprise me if the cybercrime organizations weren’t behind this “teenager hacker” story in order to lower our defenses”, is worth considering. For those who believe it, it effectively camouflages the true extent of cybercrime.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Best,

      Bill

  4. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    I’m quite sure that DDOS software is not, in the main, written by 10 to 14-year-olds. You are right that this kind of statement, taken out of context, can mask the wider problem and is, therefore, potentially dangerous.
    My understanding is that the group “Anonymous” has software that anyone can download to take part in DDOS attacks against, for example, major financial institutions that have withdrawn support for Wikileaks. It is quite likely that this could encourage youngsters who wish to rebel against authority to take part.
    Whether that is what the writer of the statement you quote had in mind is anyone’s guess and that is why that statement, on it’s own, is dangerous.

    Kind regards
    John

    • Hi John,

      Yes, you’re right – “Anonymous” (which it turns out, is anything but), is a ready made vehicle for those determined to play at being a hacker. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, law enforcement have had little difficulty in identifying users in this particular instance – Anonymous DDoS Participants Arrested in UK

      Best,

      Bill

      • John Bent

        Hi Bill,

        Have to agree with you on the political front; Also I find it curious that those who set themselves up as defenders of freedom of information become very shy when the light is shone on them. “Anonymous” (note the inverted commas) should realise that denial of service is also denial of freedom, which they purport to uphold.

        Kind regards
        John

  5. KsTinMan

    Bill,

    I certainly did not mean to “rub you the wrong way”, or to undermine the fact that cyber crime is an extremely serious problem. I did actually agree with all of your comments as I stated in my post on Tech Pauls blog. I did not at all mean to imply that I think it is in any way harmless, or that just children are to blame.

    In fact, what I was attempting to convey is that by releasing malicious code to the public in general, that researcher may engender the desire to “test” it in a bright young programmer. Kids will be kids…

    My comment about “kiddie hackers” came not from my own warped brain, but from an article written by Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation. The article describes how his website (grc.com) was shut down for several days by a 13 year old kid using a Denial of Service attack. It also explains where the kid got the code from, and how Steve was able to monitor the activity within the hacker chat room.

    I do apologize if you thought I was in some way disagreeing with your comments or that I was saying that only kids are engaging in hacks. That was not my intention. I was simply expressing my thoughts on Tech Pauls article. I am not offended by what you have said here, but you could have quoted all of my post rather than taking a small part out of context.

    Your blog has been a daily read for me over the past year or so. I have found your articles to be informative and helpful. However, this one sure was a surprise. You and I have a very similar background. I am retired, and my experience is almost identical to what I see on your “About Me” page.

    Hopefully I haven’t ruffled your feathers more than I obviously did on Tech–For Everyone. Please accept my apologies in advance if I have.

    Regards

    • KsTinMan,

      Despite the quoted text, this article was not directed at you. The idea that “Most of the Denial of Service attacks and other similar “bots” are written by 10 to 14 year old kids that are just being mischievous or looking for some acknowledgment from their peers”, is believable, and is accepted as a truism by more computer users than it deserves. I have read similar statements more times than I can recollect, on various sites. Although, in most instances the webmaster/blogger, or other readers, have addressed the issue.

      While I don’t know you on a personal level, I am aware of your background. Frankly, I looked at your comment as a reasonable attempt by you, as a high end user, to open up the conversation surrounding the complex issue of cyber crime. I’m familiar with your comments from elsewhere on the Net (many of which have a touch of wisdom), but since, in this case, no one seemed prepared to unbundle and run with your provocative comment, that fact suggested an issue which I could address here.

      Best,

      Bill

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