Feeds

Feds: Hospital hacker's 'massive' DDoS averted

Arrest foils 'Devil's Day' scheme

The essential guide to IT transformation

The leader of a malicious hacker collective who used his job as a security guard to breach sensitive Texas hospital computers has been arrested just days before his group planned a "massive DDoS" attack for the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

Jesse William McGraw, 25, of Arlington, Texas, was taken into custody late Friday evening after posting screenshots showing he had complete control of computers that administered air-conditioning systems at The Carrell Clinic in Dallas, federal prosecutors said. McGraw also brazenly posted videos showing him installing malware on hospital computers that made them part of a botnet he operated, said a network security expert, whose sleuthing uncovered the breach.

As a contract security guard at the hospital, McGraw had no authorized access to any of its computers. But that didn't stop the miscreant, who went by the handle GhostExodus, from taping himself as he walked down the halls of the hospital with a blue security guard uniform poking out through a gray hoody, as he bragged about gaining control over sensitive computers.

"It's a unique mindset among these hackers," said Wesley McGrew, a 29-year-old network PhD network security researcher at Mississippi State University. "It's all about respect and fame and the respect of their equally weird peers."

According to McGrew and federal prosecutors in Dallas, McGraw was the leader of a hacker gang known as the Electronik Tribulation Army. He had recently posted videos admonishing fellow hackers to carry out a "massive DDoS," or distributed denial of service, attack on July 4, a date he called "Devil's Day". While the target and other details of the attack are unknown, the investigators are taking the threat seriously because McGraw, prior to his arrest, had tendered his resignation as a security guard job effective July 3.

According to court documents, hospital officials had experienced problems with their HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, units and were perplexed why none of the system alarms had gone off as programmed. Had they seen screenshots posted here by someone calling themselves GhostExodus, they would have known why. They images showed the HVAC control window for the hospital's surgery unit. A test alarm setting was turned to "inactive."

"You almost can't help it ya know," GhostExodus writes. "It must be done!"

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Next page: GhostExodus outed

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?