Inside the world of "booters" -- cheesy DoS-for-hire sites

Brian Krebs delves into the world of "booter" services, low-level, amateurish denial-of-service websites where you can use PayPal to have your video-game enemies' computers knocked off the Internet by floods of traffic. Many booter services run off the same buggy codebase, and Krebs was apparently able to get inside the administrative interfaces for them and get some insight into their business.

One such is "Asylum," which appears to be run by Chandler Downs, a 17-year-old Chicago-area honor-roll student who reportedly made $35,000 in PayPal payments in exchange for denial-of-service attacks. Asylum even has an ad (narrated by an actor hired through the casual labor exchange site Fiverr) where, for $18/month, you can launch unlimited DoSes against "skids on Xbox live."

Young Mr Downs claimed that his service was not used to attack people, but only for legitimate stress-testing, then he changed his story and said he was only managing the service for someone else, and "You are able to block any of the 'attacks' as you say with rather basic networking knowledge. If you're unable to do such a thing you probably shouldn't be running a website in the first place."

Nixon noted that all of the packets incoming from the traffic she ordered to her test machines appeared to have been sent from spoofed IP addresses. However, when she used the “Down or Not?” host checker function on Asylum, the site responded from what appears to be the real Internet address of one of the servers that are used to launch the attacks: 93.114.42.28. She noted that a booter service that appears to be a clone of Asylum – vastresser.ru – is hosted on the same server.

Asylum, like most other booter services, is hidden behind Cloudflare, a content distribution network that helps sites block attacks that services like Asylum are designed to launch. Apparently, getting attacked is something of an occupational hazard for those running a booter services. Behind the Cloudflare proxy, Nixon found that the secret IP for the Asylum stresser Web frontend was 93.114.42.205.

Both IP addresses map back to Voxility, a hosting facility in Romania that has a solid reputation in the cybercrime underground for providing so-called “bulletproof hosting” services, or those that generally turn a deaf ear to abuse complaints and requests from law enforcement officials. In January 2013, I profiled one data center at this ISP called Powerhost.ro that was being used as the home base of operations for the organized cybercrime gang that is currently facing charges of developing and distributing the Gozi Banking Trojan.

According to Krebs, "Between the week of Mar. 17, 2013 and Mar. 23, 2013, asylumstresser.com was used to launch more than 10,000 online attacks."

DDoS Services Advertise Openly, Take PayPal