A black market cyber service that offers to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has been hacked, revealing a wealth of information about its operations and leading to the arrest of the two alleged creators of the service.
The vDOS service is believed to have been responsible for the vast majority of DDoS attacks over the past four years.
It allows anyone to effectively rent a DDoS attack that overwhelms websites with huge amounts of traffic.
vDOS had operated undetected for years, but security researcher Brian Krebs, working with an unnamed source, managed to find an exploit in the service that allowed access to its database of information.
The site was breached after another DDoS-for-hire service, called PoodleStresser, was itself hacked.
"The vulnerability allowed my source to download the configuration data for PoodleStresser’s attack servers, which pointed back to api.vdos-s[dot]com," reported Krebs.
"PoodleStresser, as well as a large number of other booter services, appears to rely exclusively on firepower generated by vDOS. From there, the source was able to exploit a more serious security hole in vDOS that allowed him to dump all of the service’s databases and configuration files."
Krebs discovered that vDOS was operated from Israel via servers rented in Bulgaria, and had a database of customers numbering in the tens of thousands.
"Responses from the tech support staff show that the proprietors of vDOS are indeed living in Israel and in fact set the service up so that it was unable to attack any websites in that country - presumably so as to not attract unwanted attention from Israeli authorities,” said Krebs.
The information also showed that the service had made at least $618,000 for the two owners, although the sum is likely to be far higher as this accounts for only two years of at least four years of operation.
"It’s likely that this service has made its proprietors more than $1m," Krebs said.
After publishing his story, Krebs’s website came under a DDoS attack that peaked at 140Gbps.
Israeli security services have arrested two 18-year-old men alleged to be behind vDOS and placed them under house arrest, according to local news site The Marker, as noted by Krebs.
Krebs explained that the power of vDOS underlines the problems with DDoS-for-hire services and the need to take them down whenever possible.
"They put high-powered, point-and-click cyber weapons in the hands of people, mostly young men in their teens, who otherwise wouldn’t begin to know how to launch such attacks," he said.
"Worse still, they force even the smallest of businesses to pay for DDoS protection services or risk being taken offline by anyone with a grudge or agenda."
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