Friday, October 23, 2015

Can bounty hunters stop the DDoS gangs?

The success of the DDoS for Bitcoin (DD4BC) attack group has been well documented and so it should come as no surprise that other cyber-criminals are jumping on the denial of service extortion bandwagon. Last week, at an IT industry awards lunch, we heard first hand from a large ISP how it was being threatened by just such an attack, complete with demands for a 'go away fee' to be paid in Bitcoin. And now we understand that e-tail company Aria Technology has been on the receiving end of a similar scenario of service disruption along with Scan Computers and Novatech. Rather than pay the demanded 16.66 Bitcoin (approx £2,800) ransom, the Aria Technology chief executive, Aria Taheri, opted to turn the tables and took to Twitter to announce he was putting a £15,000 bounty on the heads of the attackers. This follows, we are led to believe, success in catching hackers who targeted the Aria website in 2013 after a reward for their capture was posted by Taheri. Although offering financial reward for the apprehension of attackers, and indeed for disclosure relating to zero-day vulnerabilities in code, is not that unusual it is worthy of some further discussion. Not least as Taheri went on record ( to say that he wouldn't be paying the demanded ransom as "these kinds of attacks are only designed to affect our website and make it inaccessible" while customer information remained 100 percent secure. Taheri also went on to say that this disruption would only last for a matter of hours and "customers can always come back at a later time." This struck us as a somewhat surprising attitude for a customer facing e-tail operation to take, almost as much as the fact that it would not have some measure of DDoS mitigation in place to prevent such attacks from disrupting the business in the first place. Then there was the comment from Taheri that paying up would "only encourage others to come to us and blackmail us more" whereas a ransom says "I will spend a significant amount of money to bring them to justice."