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Cyberwar? No, malicious script kiddy

According to the lead Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, the U.S. should launch an all out retaliation against North Korea for their role in the recent cyber attacks on American and South Korean internet targets. Unfortunately for the American people, Mr. Hoekstra is either an idiot, willfully ignorant, or intentionally twisting reality for his own political ends. The best experts in the industry agree that the attacks were launched by an attention-seeking amateur.

For those who don’t know, a number of American and South Korean websites were “attacked” via a simple distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that started on July 4th. The attack disrupted some sites, but for the most part nothing was actually crashed- instead, sites just started responding more slowly. The best security people in the world started looking at what was going on, and found that the attack was originating from thousands (about 50,000) PCs in the Asian region (Japan, Korea, etc) infected with a variant of the MyDoom worm. MyDoom was in the news about five years ago, and the changes in the version used for this attack were minimal and amateurish. The code itself made no attempt to hide itself from current anti-virus software, which easily detects and blocks it from installation.

Based on the evidence, it is pretty clear what happened. Someone took the publicly available source code for MyDoom, hacked in some simple changes, and released it into the wild where a few thousand users running very unpatched and unprotected PCs got infected. The juvenile hacker then sent commands to his moderately sized bot network to attack websites that would get him or her some attention.

There is no “cyber-warfare” here, not even anything sophisticated enough to require a Russian mob connection. This is something anyone with a modicum of computer skill could do, and requires nothing even remotely like a nation’s support to accomplish. A 14 year old with a C compiler and poor self control skills: that’s what this would take. Anyone claiming that this is a professional or national act of war is, quite frankly, an idiot.

I’d hate to think the honorable Mr. Hoekstra is a malicious thought-manipulator trying to prey on the ignorance and gullibility of the American people. I’m sure Peter Hoekstra is instead just stupid.

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