So, last night I downloaded a version of the Low-Orbit Ion Cannon, the traffic generation tool which Anonymous has been using to attack various websites. The version I acquired, from SourceForge, was not one which had been modified for use by Anonymous – it didn’t have the “Hive” function which allows it to be utilized remotely. I should mention that although it was originally made by Praetox, and many versions available for download still have Praetox branding, Praetox no longer supports the code, nor is in any way affiliated with Anonymous.
It’s not really a terribly complicated tool. All it does is flood out requests in one of three ways: http requests, TCP packets, or UDP packets. It allows the user to specify the target by URL or IP address, the timeout, port number, the number of threads used, and the attack mode – that being http, TCP, or UDP. If using http, the user can specify the subsite, and if using TCP or UDP, the payload can be given. There’s also a slider for the speed – though no information on what the actual bandwidth will be – and a checkbox for whether or not to wait for a reply. With this set of parameters given, the user need only tell it to go by hitting a button entitled “IMMA CHARGIN MAH LAZER” and watch the status across the bottom.
It’s not a very sophisticated tool; it doesn’t have anything to help it get past even rudimentary countermeasures. Given that it was written as a load-testing tool, that’s hardly surprising. What it lacks in sophistication, it does offer in simplicity. This is a tool which is simple, intuitive, and effective. In terms of usability, a great many professional developers could stand to learn from it. This is a tool which can be used with virtually no networking knowledge. Given that it’s a tool which is being given out to people with virtually no networking knowledge, it’s not a bad fit.
LOIC isn’t exactly a major threat to a large website. As is the nature of DOS attacks, it simply uses a brute-force attempt to flood a site. Smaller servers can readily be overwhelmed, of course, but this isn’t a new issue. That being said, LOIC has proven remarkably effective even though it is hamstrung both by its simplicity and by the steps users must take to preserve their anonymity while using it. So long as groups like Anonymous retain a use for such a tool, newer versions can be expected. While they may have newer tricks, they’ll likely remain by the curve technologically, preferring to keep the same simple usability which allows LOIC to be wielded by so many people.