Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

12/10/2015
10:30 AM
Carl Herberger
Carl Herberger
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

The Lizard Squad: Cyber Weapon or Business?

Even a hacker with the noblest intentions can run afoul of the law by not following six important do's and don'ts.

So, you’re a young, idealistic hacker-type and thinking of starting a new business, routinely lauded for your skill in hacking computers, and usurping the most onerous technical controls. Why not follow your natural talents to develop a "killer app" that could be used as an offensive weapon in the world of security attacks? 

In August, six teenagers in the United Kingdom were arrested for utilizing Lizard Stresser, the for-hire hacking tool offered by the infamous meme group Lizard Squad, which launched a business in "booters," or stress tools like Lizard Stresser. The price for DDoS is really cheap. For instance, a $2.99 payment via PayPal or Bitcoin would buy an attack for 100 seconds a month, while $69.99 gets 30,000 seconds (more than eight hours) of a Distributed Denial of Service takedown. There's even an option for bulk-buy discounts, enabling you to save nearly $40 by purchasing a 30,000 second attack for five years.

Using the Lizard Squad as an indicator, you might think that there may actually be a future in developing businesses aimed at weaponizing the Internet and selling it as a service. Let’s explore what Lizard Squad is actually doing and look at some of the complications to their approach.

3 Don’ts

Don’t #1:  Advertise as a weapon, not a self-defense tool.
"Stresser" sites typically offer users the ability to pay for DDoS attacks against a target, and these sites promise to try to disguise the nature of the attack with the fig leaf of being legitimate load testing sites. That wasn't so much the case with Lizard Stresser, as the botnet-for-hire was purportedly used by its subscribing members during the Christmas week for DDoS attacks on Microsoft's Xbox Live network and Sony's PlayStation Network as a form of advertising for the new service.

For bona fide, fine-standing businesses, the goal should be to provide a product or service that contributes to society. Even gun manufacturers and defense contractors have stated goals of providing for defensive uses and intentions.  If your product or service is designed for offensive uses, then one could argue that the business does not have a legitimate purpose and/or isn’t a business at all, but rather a weapon.   

Don’t #2:  Knowingly contribute to an illegal attack
Companies that knowingly contribute to illegal cyberattacks leave the business of selling a tool or service and enter the world of being a criminal accomplice. Many companies are not seeking to understand or prevent attacks that are wantonly illegal. Instead they attempt to indemnify themselves through End User License Agreements (EULAs) and other such contractual instruments – a slippery slope.    .

Don’t #3:  Register your business in lawless or uncooperative domiciles
If you really want to provide a reputable tool or service, then it will serve that many or most will want your business to operate within jurisdictions with well-established laws and regulations that is known to welcome adjudication of accused perpetrators.

3 Must Dos

Do #1:  Be a solution, not the problem
Real businesses strive to solve a problem. Weapons are designed to cause harm. Many businesses that make technology that can be weaponized often install "kill switch" features or other detection technologies to help law enforcement if the tool is used for malicious purposes.

Organizations uninterested in contributing to the solution eschew such control features and don't concern themselves with the motives of the tools' users.

Do #2:  Be transparent about customers and targets
Transparency is key is defending your intentions as a business. Who are your customers, what technology are you using, what approaches you are taking? If the technology is unique and valuable to you, then it should be protected by copyrights, trademarks and patents. If not, then no need to be cloaked in secrecy.

Realistically, things have not gone that well for Lizard Squad since the launch of LizardStresser. There have been numerous reports that the LizardStresser server itself was hacked, and its database was dumped and posted to known sites in a similar fashion to the Ashley Madison hack.

Usernames and passwords of nearly 13,000 Lizard Squad "customers," along with logs of the Internet addresses that had been attacked by the router botnet, were laid bare for all to see. Police in the UK are now visiting over 50 addresses of registered LizardStresser users and aim to deter others from carrying out similar cybercrimes in the future.

Do #3:  Contribute to the security testing community by sharing information
Great cybersecurity means being able to react to fast-moving changes to the threat landscape, and vendors have a role in assisting the community at large. Numerous governments have been trying to rally the security vendor community into a collection of trusted information providers.

Even if a hacker has noble intentions, when cybercrime pops up in the news, it’s often portrayed in a negative light. If you keep in mind that the business you are in needs to traverse "squeaky clean" processes and procedures, you can successfully navigate the business of security and the ire of those who would object to the ethics of your decision in order to start the business.    

Best of luck for those of you interested in contributing to the body of security knowledge with a great and legal new business!

Carl is an IT security expert and currently manages Radware's security practice in the Americas. With over a decade of experience, he began his career working at the Pentagon evaluating computer security events affecting daily Air Force operations. Carl also managed critical ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Cyberattacks Are Tailored to Employees ... Why Isn't Security Training?
Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian,  6/17/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Powerful Cybersecurity Skills the Energy Sector Needs Most
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer,  6/22/2021
News
Microsoft Disrupts Large-Scale BEC Campaign Across Web Services
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32823
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
In the bindata RubyGem before version 2.4.10 there is a potential denial-of-service vulnerability. In affected versions it is very slow for certain classes in BinData to be created. For example BinData::Bit100000, BinData::Bit100001, BinData::Bit100002, BinData::Bit<N>. In combination with &lt...
CVE-2021-35041
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-24
The blockchain node in FISCO-BCOS V2.7.2 may have a bug when dealing with unformatted packet and lead to a crash. A malicious node can send a packet continuously. The packet is in an incorrect format and cannot be decoded by the node correctly. As a result, the node may consume the memory sustainabl...
CVE-2021-2322
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
Vulnerability in OpenGrok (component: Web App). Versions that are affected are 1.6.7 and prior. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows low privileged attacker with network access via HTTPS to compromise OpenGrok. Successful attacks of this vulnerability can result in takeover of OpenGrok. CVSS 3.1 ...
CVE-2021-20019
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A vulnerability in SonicOS where the HTTP server response leaks partial memory by sending a crafted HTTP request, this can potentially lead to an internal sensitive data disclosure vulnerability.
CVE-2021-21809
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A command execution vulnerability exists in the default legacy spellchecker plugin in Moodle 3.10. A specially crafted series of HTTP requests can lead to command execution. An attacker must have administrator privileges to exploit this vulnerabilities.