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OcUK puts £10K bounty on the heads of DDoS varmints

Wild West response to week-long hack attack

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Overclockers.co.uk is offering a £10,000 ($13,830) reward for information leading to the conviction of attackers who have targeted the technology enthusiast site in a DDoS lasting over a week.

In a forum posting on Wednesday, Overclockers.co.uk (OcUK) placed a bounty of the head of cybercrooks who have mounted an attack that has left its online store and forum servers running at a crawl for the last ten days.

The money will be payable to anyone whose information leads to an arrest and conviction against the perpetrators of the attack. Tips can be submitted anonymously, by email.

OcUK stressed that the attacks are simply affecting the availability of servers, which are been flooded with a torrent of junk data as a result of the assault, and not the security of data held by or processed through the site. The site has likely suspects in mind, but needs more evidence to take to the police.

Over the last 10 days OcUK servers have been subject to sustained DDoS attacks that have disrupted our on-line store and forums servers. Instigating these kind of attacks is a serious criminal offence and whilst we have strong suspicions who is behind them we need more evidence.

I am offering £10,000 to anyone who can provide evidence that leads to a conviction. You can provide this information anonymously if you want to via jobs@overclockers.co.uk but the evidence must be something that SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) can use. If you do reveal your identity we will only disclose it to the Police with your permission.

I'd like to apologise to all our customers and forum members for any inconvenience caused. I cannot discuss what action is being taken to protect OcUK from these attacks but I assure you wheels are in motion.

OcUK is applying unspecified security measures, which likely involve traffic filtering by its ISP and the application of DDoS mitigation tools to defend against the attack. Distribute denial of service attacks are nowadays almost always run from networks of compromised machines (botnets), hired for the purpose.

It would take a considerable outlay of money and effort to mount a week-long attack, so we can speculate that the perpetrators either have a serious beef against OcUK or they are attempting to mount a blackmail scam. Either way this would help OcUK to narrow down the list of potential suspects.

Offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of denial of service miscreants represents a rare move by OcUK, although not unprecedented. German tech publication Heise offered a €10,000 ($13,011) reward for the low-down on attackers who hit the site in February 2005.

Microsoft has also offered such a reward. In 2003, it put up $250,000 for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of the VXer behind the infamous SoBig and Blaster worms, as part of a wider Anti-virus Reward Program1. Informants, erstwhile college friends of the later convicted perp, turned in the creator of the later Sasser worm, Sven Jaschan, as part of the program in 2004.

OcUK is a hybrid hardware hacker enthusiast site and online computer kit reseller set up back in 1999 by Web designer Mark Proudfoot and PC reseller Peter Radford. ®

1Very little if anything has been heard of Microsoft's VXer snitch program since 2004, but the current prolific spread of the Conficker worm is surely a suitable candidate for reviving the scheme, if for no other reason than to put the frighteners up the unknown creators of the worm. A network of 9m compromised PCs have been established by the malware, but security watchers reckon this huge botnet resource has yet to be put into action sending spam, or launching denial of service attacks.

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