Code used in major cyber attacks released online

Cyber Crime

Security experts fear many websites are at risk of being taken offline by major cyber attacks, after the computer code used in one of the largest attacks in history was released online.

Brian Krebs, a security expert, spotted the source code on a hacking forum over the weekend.

Mr Krebs had his blog ‘Krebs on Security’ hit by the Internet of Things botnet last month, in what is believed to be the largest Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack ever seen at that point. His blog was hit at speeds of 620Gbps, although this was later surpassed by cyber attacks on OVH, a French hosting company.

Called ‘Mirai’, the botnet focuses on hacking into insecure devices such as webcams, routers and thermostats, in order to flood a target with traffic. The malware searches the web for such devices which have factory default passwords, and are therefore easy to gain access to.

The big concern is that the release of the code could now allow relatively unskilled cyber criminals to carry out large cyber attacks, exploiting vulnerable IoT devices. One way in which your security can be boosted is by setting proper usernames and passwords, instead of using the default settings.

Dale Drew, Chief Security Officer at Level 3, said to Ars Technica: “There is already a surge in botnet operators attempting to find and exploit IoT devices in order to gain access to uniform and sizable botnet networks.

“These botnets are largely being used in [DDoS-for ransom] campaigns, which is netting the operators significant revenue and the ability to spend more time to improve their capabilities and add additional layers of sophistication.

“By releasing this source code, this will undoubtedly enable a surge in botnet operators to use this code to start a new surge in consumer and small business IoT compromises… This could be the start of a surge of attacks against IoT devices in the consumer space.”