‘Bustling’ web attack market closed down

Hack Forums screengrabImage copyright
Hack Forums

Image caption

Hack Forums is well known as a source of detailed information about hacking

A “bustling” marketplace that offered tools and services to mount massive web attacks has been shut by its owners.

The marketplace, on the Hack Forums website, was notorious for making it easy it launch attacks that knocked servers offline.

The section was “permanently shut down” because several attacks known to be co-ordinated via the forum caused web-wide disruption.

One regular victim of attacks arranged via Hack Forums welcomed the closure.

Security bug

“Unfortunately once again the few ruin it for the many,” wrote Jesse LaBrocca, founder of Hack Forums, in a message explaining why the section was being closed.

“I’m personally disappointed that this is the path I have to take in order to protect the community,” he wrote. “I loathe having to censor material that could be beneficial to members.”

Media captionEXPLAINED: What is a DDoS attack?

Mr LaBrocca hinted that the whole site could be shuttered if the web attack section was not closed, adding a reference to “recent events” that had prompted the decision.

The “recent events” are likely to be the attacks of 21 October that briefly took down popular websites such as Reddit, Twitter and Spotify as well as many others.

Analysis revealed that historic amounts of data had been used to cause the disruption.

An attack tool called Mirai is known to have launched the tidal waves of data that made sites hard to reach.

Source code for this tool was shared on Hack Forums shortly before the attacks took place.

Mirai helped malicious hackers launch what are known as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by hijacking insecure webcams and digital video recorders and using them to send endless data requests to targets.

As well as the big attacks, the Hack Forums marketplace also gave people access to so-called “booter” and “stresser” services.

These low-cost DDoS services were often used by gamers keen to knock rivals offline or to inconvenience people that malicious hackers wanted to harass.

Security journalist Brian Krebs, whose site has been regularly hit by attacks carried out by cyber-thieves he has exposed, said he was glad the Hack Forums market had gone dark.

“The removal of booter services from Hack Forums is a gratifying development for me personally and professionally,” he wrote.

“My site has been under near-constant attack from users of these booter services for several years now.”

‘Bustling’ web attack market closed down

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