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Dutch hacker group offers to 're-educate' teen hacktivists

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A Dutch hackers collective named Revspace wants to "re-educate" Dutch teens suspected of cyberattacks against Mastercard and Visa and websites of the Dutch National Prosecutors Office – and turn them into "ethical hackers".

Last week, Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old boy for participating in web attacks against MasterCard and Visa as part of a grassroots push to support WikiLeaks.

On Saturday, another teenager was arrested in the municipality of Hoogezand-Sappemeer, who admitted he had flooded the website of the Dutch prosecutor. The 19-year-old was active under the name Awinee and reportedly urged other internet users to participate in the attack. The teen was released today. Martijn Gonlag, pictured here, says he only wanted to test software, and wasn’t supporting Wikileaks.

Both arrests were fairly easy for the cops to make, as both teenagers used LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon), a tool that doesn't offer any security services, such as anonymisation. The IP address of the attacker can be seen in all packets sent during the attacks, as the Dutch University of Twente reported (PDF). The university's report explained that this is the case for both current versions of the LOIC tool, including the web-based tool that runs in any Javascript-supported browser.

The university warns that hacktivists may not be aware that international data retention laws require that commercial Internet providers store data regarding Internet usage for at least six months. This means that hacktivists can still be easily traced after the attacks are over.

The hackerspace Revelation Space in The Hague recently called for a meeting on ethical hacking. Disrupting websites with DDoS attacks does not align with the ethics of the hacker community, says founder Koen Martens. "It's like slapping someone in the face when you run out of arguments to prove someone wrong."

Anyone can download and start a computer program and become part of a coordinated online crime, Martens says. There is no creativity involved: DDoS attackers generally use existing tools without realising how these function.

The 16-year-old hacker from the Hague was a regular in the online chat room for the hackerspace. Martens believes the teenager should not be excluded from the community. "They should be shown a better way to reach goals." ®

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