I did a research project and story for WBTV earlier this year about botnet herders and how they run marketing campaigns that lure and entice young people into their lair. Some savvy kids know exactly what they are partaking in and love the thrill of it. Some kids think they are doing "work from home" for lucrative pay. Often, the parents seem to be the last to know.
If you are not sure what a DDoS attack does to someone's website, I love the description provided by Graham Cluley at Sophos. He says to think of "15 fat men trying to get through a revolving door at the same time". Got an image?
There are websites and forums that are encouraging people to join a botnet and they are even kind enough to offer you tools to download so you do not have to even bother with any programming. This is risky for many reasons, I will highlight a few here:
1. Why would you trust a tool that was built to attack websites to reside on your computer? What will it do to your computer?
2. Legal issues are muddy in cyberspace but we do have legal precedent where people are tried, convicted and paying penalties and/or serving jail time.
a. A 23 year old man learned this recently as his trial wrapped up and he received a 30 month prison sentence for launch attacks against Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and Rudy Giuliani.
b. A 17 year old young man was arrested recently for using "Phenom Booter" which allows gamers to score more points and even block other gamers on the popular game "Call of Duty". The UK has a Computer Misuse Act which he was charged under.
"Are DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks against the law?" and "Youth arrested over Call of Duty DDoS attack", Graham Cluley, Sophos NakeSecurity, December 9, 2010.
Link to: story on Botnet Herders for WBTV