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Wannabe Hackers Are Willing to Pay To Learn How To Use the Mirai Botnet

Everyone wants to try the new shiny malware that can take down websites.
Image: pathdoc/Shutterstock

Around two months ago, a hacker called Anna-senpai published the source code of a piece of malware designed to automatically scan the internet and infect easy-to-hack devices to turn them into zombie computers to be used in cyberattacks.

That, in theory, gave every hacker in the world an easy chance to build a botnet of hacked Internet of Things ready to be enlisted in massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. And, in fact, unknown hackers launched a turf war to control the vulnerable devices and the botnet, and they attacked big targets, taking down Twitter, Spotify and others as collateral damage.


But, apparently, not everyone can figure out how to use the malware, which is called Mirai.

"I was able to get the source code in github, do you have some tutorial on how to use it?" asked someone on a hacking forum.

Read more: The Looming Disaster of the Internet of (Hackable) Things

Another wannabe hacker, this time in an IRC chat, had a similar plea: "I have miria source code but cannot use it!"

"Then go back to minecraft," sneered someone else in the chatroom.

These are just a few examples of countless wannabe hackers asking for coding help to use Mirai, all collected by Digital Shadows, a cybersecurity firm. These sometimes laughable pleas for help show that launching DDoS has become an attractive activity for hackers of all skills levels, and even those who have no skills, want in.

"Anyone that's worth their salt should be able to setup the mysql database and go through all the different components to make it work," Rick Holland, vice president of strategy at Digital Shadows, told Motherboard in a phone interview.

Yet, many don't. That, according to Holland, shows that the DDoS and Mirai scene is full of wannabe hackers or "skids" (the scornful name that more skilled hackers call those who can't really hack.)

"The majority of people that are active in criminal locations be it forums and be it marketplaces, their skillsets are probably pretty low," Holland said.

But as we noted a few weeks ago, the beauty (or horror depending on your point of view) of the Internet of (Hackable) Things is that it can be abused to do a lot of damage even with crappy malware like Mirai, even when used by skids who barely know what they're doing.

Holland also said that he and his analyst haven't seen a decrease of help requests in the last two months. If anything, more skilled hackers have taken this as a chance to offer paid tutorials and earn extra bucks—even if they make fun at the wannabes or "skids," in hacker lingo .

"There's a little bit of people rolling their eyes at people asking for source code assistance," Holland said. "There's an interesting mix between disdain and looking to make a profit."

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