Turkish Cybercriminal Turns Hacking Into A Game, Awards Points And Prizes

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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A Turkish cybercriminal is convincing individuals to hack political institutions and other groups by awarding points and prizes on an online platform.

The internet structure, (called Surface Defense in English), requests hackers infiltrate and attack certain political websites by using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) tool called Balyoz.

DDoS attacks render certain networks and websites inaccessible to users. Typically, hackers bombard part of the site’s infrastructure by directing several devices and the respective unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (the numerical label assigned to every device) to targeted online systems, which floods and overwhelms them.

“The Turkish word for sledgehammer has a political resonance within Turkey. In 2010, documents came to light indicating there had apparently been an attempted military coup d’état in 2003, nicknamed OPERATION SLEDGEHAMMER,” according to Forcepoint Security Labs, a cybersecurity firm that first discovered the platform.

To get involved, users recruited from online hacking forums download the Surface Defense software and register. Participants can then run the program on their own computer, download the DDoS tool and start competing for prizes. Forcepoint Security Labs calls it the “Gamification of DDoS Attacks.”

There are believed to be a total of 24 websites being attacked. The targeted organizations include Kurdish political and military news, the German Christian Democratic Party, an Armenian Genocide website and Israeli-based domains, according to Forcepoint Security Labs investigations.

Hackers are awarded one point for every 10 minutes spent inundating these websites with unnecessary web traffic, reports ZDNet. Points are accumulated and can be used for further downloadable hacking tools like “click-fraud” bots, which can fraudulently generate money by luring people into clicking on certain online features.

There is “a realtime league table scoreboard of DDoS attacks which displays a points system and allows those participating to exchange points for software to enable them to perform ‘click fraud,'” Andy Settle, head of Special Investigations at Forcepoint Security Labs, said in the extensive report. “A mysterious individual who writes all the software tools, but also puts secret backdoors into the software and who possibly works for a Turkish defense supplier…”

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