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 Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BBC News reports that easy to use tools that automate attacks on computers are being produced by malicious hackers, according to security experts, ranging from individual viruses to comprehensive kits that let budding cyber thieves craft their own attacks. The top hacking tools may cost up to 500, with some providing 12 months of technical support. Tim Eades from security company Sana said that malicious hackers had evolved over the last few years and were now selling the tools they used to use to the growing numbers of cyber thieves. Individual malicious programs cost up to 17 (25 euros), he said. At the top end of the scale, said Mr Eades, were tools like the notorious MPack which costs up to 500. The regular updates for the software ensure it uses the latest vulnerabilities to help criminals hijack PCs via booby-trapped webpages. It also includes a statistical package that lets owners know how successful their attack has been and where victims are based. MPack has been very popular among criminally minded groups and in late June 2007 managed to subvert more than 10,000 websites in one attack that drew on the tool.

Paul Henry, vice president of Secure Computing, said there were more than 68,000 downloadable hacking tools in circulation. The majority were free to use and took some skill to operate but a growing number were offered for sale to those without the technical knowledge to run their own attacks such as Mpack, Shark 2, Nuclear, WebAttacker, and IcePack. Mr Henry said the tools were proving useful because so many vulnerabilities were being discovered and were taking so long to be patched. Many hacking groups were attracted to selling the kits because it meant they took little risk themselves if the malicious software was used to commit crimes. "The only thing you are going to find is a disclaimer that this was distributed for educational purposes and the user accepts any responsibility for any misuse," he said.

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