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In programming culture a script kiddie or skiddie (also known as skid, script bunny, script kitty) is an unskilled individual who uses scripts or programs developed by others to attack computer systems and networks, and deface websites. It is generally assumed that script kiddies are juveniles who lack the ability to write sophisticated programming programs or exploits on their own, and that their objective is to try to impress their friends or gain credit in computer-enthusiast communities. The term is typically intended as an insult.
"The more immature but unfortunately often just as dangerous exploiter of security lapses on the Internet. The typical script kiddy uses existing and frequently well known and easy-to-find techniques and programs or scripts to search for and exploit weaknesses in other computers on the Internet—often randomly and with little regard or perhaps even understanding of the potentially harmful consequences.
Script kiddies have at their disposal a large number of effective, easily downloadable malicious programs capable of breaching computers and networks. Such programs have included remote denial-of-service WinNuke, trojans Back Orifice, NetBus, Sub7, and ProRat, vulnerability scanner/injector kit Metasploit, and often software intended for legitimate security auditing. A survey of college students in 2010, supported by UK's Association of Chief Police Officers, indicated a high level of interest in beginning hacking: "23% of 'uni' students have hacked into IT systems [...] 32% thought hacking was 'cool' [...] 28% considered it to be easy."
Script kiddies vandalize websites both for the thrill of it and to increase their reputation among their peers. Some more malicious script kiddies have used virus toolkits to create and propagate the Anna Kournikova and Love Bug viruses. Script kiddies lack, or are only developing, programming skills sufficient to understand the effects and side effects of their actions. As a result, they leave significant traces which lead to their detection, or directly attack companies which have detection and countermeasures already in place, or in recent cases, leave automatic crash reporting turned on.
Script kiddies are often able to exploit vulnerable systems and strike with moderate success. Some of the most infamous examples include:
Calce, a.k.a. MafiaBoy, a high school student from Montreal, Canada, was arrested in 2000 for using downloaded tools to launch a series of highly publicized denial-of-service attacks against high-profile Web sites such as Yahoo!, Dell, eBay, and CNN. Calce initially denied responsibility but later pled guilty to most of the charges brought against him. His lawyer insisted his client had only run unsupervised tests to help design an improved firewall, whereas trial records indicated the youth showed no remorse and had expressed a desire to move to Italy for its lax computer crime laws. The Montreal Youth Court sentenced him on September 12, 2001 to eight months of "open custody," one year of probation, restricted use of the Internet, and a small fine.
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In 1999, a legal researcher working for Lund University in Sweden was reported to the police as having a large number of pornographic images, including child pornography, on his university computer. As a result of the charges, he lost university privileges, and due to public persecution, left the university and Sweden. A computer security expert examined an image of the computer hard drive; he testified at trial that the researcher had no privileges to install software on the computer and that a remote-control software called Netbus (a script-kiddie favorite at the time) had been used to take remote control of the computer. A second program had then been installed to download the pornographic images. The researcher was finally acquitted of all charges in 2004.
Jeffrey Lee Parson
Jeffrey Lee Parson, a.k.a. T33kid, was an 18-year-old high school student from Minnesota who was responsible for spreading a variant of the infamous Blaster computer worm. Parson only modified the original Blaster worm, already prevalent, using a hex editor to add his screen name to the existing executable, and then attached another existing backdoor, Lithium, and posted it on his website. By making this subtle modification, the new executable was considered a variant, and authorities were all able to trace the name back to him. The program was part of a DoS attack against computers using the Microsoft Windows operating system. The attack took the form of a SYN flood which caused only minimal damage. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2005.
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- Carolyn Meinel
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