Instant-messaging hacker tool may threaten servers

A new hacking tool using the instant-messaging platform Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is rapidly spreading across the Internet and has the potential to shut down Web servers .

Called Voyager Alpha Force, the tool has already been used to infect about 300 computers, according to various reports, but its biggest threat lies in its ability to be used in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, according to security experts.

"It is a malicious program you download from the Internet. It looks like it's an IRC bot. Though we don't have any numbers, and I don't believe the software has yet been used to bring a Web server down, we do know that it's gone around quite quickly," said John Safa, chief technical officer at BitArts Ltd., a software security company in the U.K.

Voyager Alpha Force infects computers running Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server database software, allowing rogue software to be sneaked onto computers. In turn that software could then be instructed to send so many requests to a targeted Web server that it shuts down, Safa said.

"It is really, really difficult to stop it because requests come from thousands of IP addresses, so many that the server is flooded and (you end up) being forced to bring the server down," Safa said.

"There is a blur going on right now between the hacking and the cracking community and now hacking tools are utilizing virus techniques. They can make it so that people are launching attacks without even knowing it, because the tool is hidden in the software and programs that they always use and trust. I think a lot of DDoS as an issue is getting swept under the carpet," Safa said.

Though some security experts are recommending that companies and users should protect themselves by changing default passwords and putting their servers behind firewall software to block unauthorized access, Safa believes such precautions are not enough.

"There's got to be a new approach. Putting servers behind the firewall is not sufficient to protect anyone from an attack because a large enough DDoS can cause the firewall itself to fall over. What we are saying is that protection has to be built into the software. You've got to get radical to protect your PC," Safa said.

Companies should protect all of the programs they are running that could be used to access the Internet, everything from Outlook Express to Photoshop, and lock them down in order to keep them from being tampered with, Safa said.

"It's fairly easy to do, but it does require a bit of discipline from not only the company but everyone using those programs," Safa said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laura Rohde

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?