New Hacking Tools Released to Attack Web Sites

The new tools could misuse Microsoft's Windows NT, 95, 98 and 2000-based systems to launch a massive amount of data that would overwhelm a Web site, David Perry, a spokesman for antivirus software vendor Trend Micro, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Two weeks ago, in one of the most publicized computer attacks ever, several networks were closed down due to continuous streams of data being launched from computers running on Sun Microsystems's Solaris operating systems, Perry said. The use of the Solaris Unix OS required some expertise to initiate, while knowledge of the Windows operating systems family is widespread, he explained.

"The only difference from the tools used (two weeks ago) and those released this week is that someone now has taken an agent and made it work on Windows," Perry said. "But the Windows-based machines are an order of magnitude easier to use than the others (based on Solaris)."

No attacks from Windows-based machines have been reported since the new tools were posted on an Internet bulletin board Saturday night, Perry said.

In the so-called "denial of service" attacks two weeks ago, bits of data were distributed to a multitude of computers around the world. These data "sleepers" were then simultaneously sent to networks, overwhelming them.

The hackers who posted the latest tools Saturday are seemingly not connected to those who engineered the recent attack, Perry said. "There's an army of teenagers out there in the hacker world," he said. "It's the computer equivalent of graffiti."

The FBI is continuing its investigation into the recent attacks, which are believed to originate from networks that include the University of California at Santa Barbara and Stanford University. Market research company The Yankee Group Inc. estimated the attacks have cost the IT industry upwards of US$1.2 billion. [See "Analyst Puts Hacker Damage at US$1.2B and Rising," Feb. 10.]Microsoft monitored the attacks and has updated its security apparatus, Adam Sohn, a Microsoft spokesman, said today in a phone interview.

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