Sean Sharma, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, launched several DDoS attacks on a San Franciscan chat company by the name of “Chatango”. Using a Linux-based stress tester (known as ‘Xtreme Fire’), he launched several different attacks between November 2014 to January 2015. The X-treme Fire tool Sharma used is actually meant to be used ethically; to stress test websites for heavy loads of traffic, as in the launch of a new product for a website.

What is a DDoS attack?

DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial-of-Service) consist of using thousands of unique IP addresses to flood a server with traffic. This will often result in a crash of the server, or block legit users from logging in.

Directing the talents of a new generation:

In a joint operation by the United States, Australia and Europol (11 additional European countries); Mr. Sharma was only one of thirty-four arrests, targeting DDoS attackers under the age of 20 according to Europol’s European Crime Center. The cyber-tools used to carry out these attacks are easily accessible to the budding younger generation of computer hackers who don’t realize the actual weight and consequence these attacks will have for them. This is why the coalition had targeted such a young group; to steer them away from a life of crime and towards a more constructive use of their skills.

Here are the most common crimes committed by younger offenders (according to FBI.gov):

Hacking, or gaining access into someone’s computer network without their permission, and then taking control and/or taking information from other people’s computers.

Making, supplying, or obtaining malware (malicious software), viruses, spyware, botnets and remote access Trojans.

Carrying out a DDoS attack or “booting” a DDoS—booting someone offline, for example, while they are playing online games.