Internet is flooding with news of cyber attacks in retaliation for attempts to block the WikiLeaks website, which have already hit the websites of credit-card giants MasterCard and Visa and even Paypal. When it clear that most of those attacks are of denial-of-service (DDoS) type, not many know how the hackers (mind us calling them hactivists, rather) are bringing down huge sites like a pack of cards. The answer is LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon)!
LOIC (“Low Orbit Ion Cannon”) is an application being used by 4Chan-affiliated hackers designed to—when used en masse by thousands of anonymous users – launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on websites. Like Visa.com and Mastercard.com, for instance.
– The weapon of choice is a piece of open source software named a “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” (LOIC), which was originally developed to help Internet security experts test the vulnerability of a website to a DDoS attack. Now LOIC is available for download on the Internet.
– The LOIC can be controlled centrally by an administrator in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel, a type of computer chat room, which can seize control of a network of computers whose combined power is used in a DDoS attack.
– The attack is aimed at the target website and when the LOICs are activated they flood the website with a deluge of data requests at the same time.
– The DDoS attack prevents the overloaded server from responding to legitimate requests and slows down the website to a crawl or shuts it down totally.
– The attacks are coordinated in the IRC channel and on Thursday, around 3,000 people were active on the channel at one stage.
– The current situation has some historical parallels to a decade ago, when, in February, 2000, several of the biggest US e-commerce and media sites came under attack in denial-of-service attacks. Targets included Amazon.com, eBay, E-Trade, Buy.com and CNN, the news site. The ecommerce sites endured substantial losses during the outages, at a time when the Internet shopping phenomenon remained in its infancy.
This guest post is written by Pete Austin who is a regular writer on computer science courses and also writes for Guide to Online Schools.