The Boy Next Door, Botnet Herder

It’s a truism to note that 13-year-olds don’t tend to be mastermind criminals: In fact, I’ll never forget when my own at-the-time 13-year-old made a bunch of prank calls—from his own cell phone. Genius.

But consider the case of a malware developer that goes by the nickname of DaddyL33T—the author of an IoT botnet and master of a website housing a whole zoo of malware code. He’s also working on the “DaddyHackingTeam portal,” for botnet-as-a-service rentals. It turns out, this individual is only 13.  

Ankit Anubhav, principal researcher at NewSky Security, analyzed the botnet, which is a modified version of the QBot botnet and didn’t take a huge amount of skill to develop. It has managed to infect around 300 victims so far. After contacting DaddyL33T, the kid spilled the beans about his age—and noted that he wasn’t too worried about charges given that he’s a juvenile.

"What concerns me is that with a bit of copy-paste of available code, a kid of age 13 can start a botnet," Anubhav told Bleeping Computer. "Such people should be encouraged more towards the white-hat side, and we must also include ethics 101 to mentor our young programmers.”

Disturbingly, he said that he spends 15 to 18 hours per day online. Where are this kid’s parents? That is seriously screwed up.

Some kids dream of being astronauts or being a real-life Indiana Jones—other kids dream of making the next Mirai, I guess. To be fair, he initially wanted to either an administrator or web developer for a server for the hugely popular Minecraft video game. And then he went to the Dark Side.

The young lad shows his age though: He also has been posting job applications on a freelancing portal (presumably for legit employment)—using the same Skype ID that he previously used to advertise his botnet. Genius. 

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