Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken

Michael Calce was a canadian teenager, with the alias "Mafia Boy", conducted one of histories most "successful" DoS (denial of service- an attack which prevents computer resources from being access) in history.

Michael Calce conducted a denial of service (DoS) attacks that brought down,, eBay, Yahoo!, and many other very popular internet sites for more than a time frame of six hours.

The estimated losses because of the attack were estimated to be $1.2 billion, including drops in share values, loss of revenue and recovery time. He has now written a book about his journey in the hacking world.


The book is the story of Michael Calce's involvement in hacking, from his early adventures on AOL, launching the attacks on Yahoo, CNN and eBay in 1999 to the resulting investigation, trial and sentencing that followed. The second part of the book covers a bit of his life afterwards but is mostly on how hacking has changed since his Mafiaboy days and ways for users to protect themselves online.

When I first came across the book I had to google "MafiaBoy" as, while the name sounded familiar, I couldn't recall who he was. In short, besides his age and the high profile of his targets, his story isn't that unique: "teen hacks website" is almost a cliche at this point with everything from James Bond to Doctor Who featuring young computer geniuses who are up to no-good. So it's worth asking beyond who was MafiaBoy, what exactly did he do, and does it matter nearly 10 years on.


In this book, he also examines the current state of security of the internet. He also examines how hackers these days are more criminal minded, engaging in the activity for money.

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