Denial of service suspect arrested in Canada

www.infoworld.com |  Security

A 15-YEAR-OLD MONTREAL boy with the alleged Internet codename of Mafiaboy has been charged as the prime suspect in connection with the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks that briefly immobilized and brought down Internet giants eBay, Amazon.com, Yahoo.com, and ETrade back in February.

The teen was arrested on Saturday and indicted on Monday with two counts of mischief to data on the Web sites of CNN and more than 1,200 Web sites it was hosting, said Inspector Yves Roussel, a member of the Commercial Crime Section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of Montreal.

In accordance with Canadian law, the teen's identity cannot be revealed. The charged individual has been released on bond with several nonacademic computer access and computer proximity restrictions imposed on his release.

Canadian Law officials said the DDoS-attack investigation is ongoing by the Mounted Police's Computer Investigation and Support Unit, and future charges or arrests may occur. Roussel said all computers and related material seized by authorities from the suspect's premises are set to be analyzed and investigated to identify additional pieces of evidence in the case.

Roussel said Mafiaboy publicized on many occasions that he was in fact responsible for the infamous attacks through IRC (Internet Relay Chat) discussion forums frequented by hackers.

For a hectic few days in early February, millions of visitors to many of the Internet's most popular Web sites were blocked from gaining entry or receiving any type of service from the Web sites for hours because they lay crippled, under siege from massive DDoS attacks.

A hacker can instigate a flood of DoS attacks by sending thousands upon thousands of service requests to a Web site or server, causing a bottleneck to occur and jamming all traffic to a standstill while trying to reach its destination. Often third-party computer systems are unwittingly recruited to serve as "zombies" for the massive attack, causing fits for administrators and investigators trying to find the location of the master computer behind the assault through a myriad of spoofed or bogus origin points.

Although it is difficult to gauge how many dollars were lost during February's well-publicized DoS attacks, it is important to keep in mind that some good did come out of the problem, said Chris Christiansen, a security analyst at IDC, in Framingham, Mass.

"The repercussions were enormous and they were in fact quite positive," said Christiansen. "A number of companies developed solutions or installed solutions for these types of attacks. Generally people don't buy fire extinguishers until they have a fire."

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