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Mirai Botnet

Posted: April 2, 2019

The Mirai Botnet is among the most spectacular projects the world of cybercrime has seen in the past few years. The botnet was used to launch one of the largest DDoS (Distributed-Denial-of-Service) attacks seen, and American authorities suspected that this might have been a cyber attack launched by a hostile nation. The reality, however, turned out to be much different – the Mirai Botnet is a project created by Paras Jha, a young student who was interested in DDoS attacks. Although the initial plan of the project was to launch small attacks on local institutions and Minecraft servers, the project’s rapid development led the author to launch a DDoS attack that took down services like Twitter, Spotify, Box, The New York Times, and a large portion of Internet access on the East Coast of the United States.

Botnets have been a thing for many years, but in the past, their power was smaller significantly due to the small number of Internet-connected and vulnerable devices that cybercriminals were able to work with. The change that the Mirai Botnet brought is that it does not target regular computers – instead, it focuses on Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. These devices are often not considered to be computers since they can be baby cameras, CCTV security systems, or basic smart gadgets – however, they are all connected to the Internet and usually run a simplified version of Linux. The Mirai Botnet scans the Internet for such devices and attempts to login into their administrator panel by using a list of 61 default username and password combinations. You may think that this is an inefficient tactic, but the fact that there are over 8.4 billion IoT devices means that the Mirai Botnet’s potential is incredible.

Often, malware authors tend to keep their projects private, but the author of the Mirai Botnet had a different idea, which made it more difficult to trace the source of the attack. The botnet's source code was released publicly, and in just a few days there were countless of smaller botnets that behaved in a way identical to the Mirai Botnet, therefore making it much more hard for authorities to identify and track the mastermind behind the Mirai Botnet.

The author of the Mirai Botnet is serving time in jail for the operation and the fact that the botnet was used to launch DDoS attacks, execute ad fraud campaigns, and disrupt the operations of various companies around the world currently. However, the consequences of the actions of the Mirai’s creator are likely to be around for a long time – the source code has been used to set up numerous other botnets, and cybercriminals have used it to built more elaborate botnet projects that are likely to be used for devious purposes.