NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A man with a grudge against New York City apparently decided to take down New York Magazine's web site for several hours on Monday--just because he could.
The hacker, who called himself ThreatKing and is part of a hacking group called Vikingdom2016, claimed he did it because he was mistreated during a recent visit to the city. He also contended it had nothing to do with the magazine's just-launched cover story detailing 35 women accusing Bill Cosby of assault.
"Many stupid people at [sic] New York," ThreatKing told The Daily Dot over a Skype chat. "I have not even seen the cover, LOL."
And his group, Vikingdom2016, warned that other New York web sites may be next.
As this incident shows, anyone can now hack into any web site for any reason. Even more ominous: you don't even have to know how to do it.
"There's a whole cottage industry of services you can hire for very cheap," Brian Krebs author of Spam Nation and the security blog KrebsonSecurity, said. "It's only a couple bucks to take any site offline for several hours, and some of these sites accept Paypal."
These attacks are so common now that they barely receive any attention. But they pose a major threat to any company that does business online and angers a customer for whatever reason. Even more chilling: there's not much companies can do to prevent it.
"Denial of service attacks are becoming more common, and more damaging," Krebs explains. "They are bigger than ever before because the number of resources available to hackers is almost infinite."
Hackers, especially the ones who brag about their attacks on Twitter, as ThreatKing did, often do it just for attention from their peers, Krebs says.
NyMag.com was probably a target due to the traffic and media attention the Cosby story was expected to receive rather than any issues with the story itself, which can be read in a cached version here.
"With a lot of these attacks, it's just a matter of time," Krebs said. "[New York Magazine] probably hasn't had to deal with this before, and are scrambling to fix it."
The problem with trying to prevent attacks it is that the Internet itself was built on trust. It has open protocols that assumed everyone was honest in identifying themselves.
"These days, everybody is getting breached," Krebs said. "Hopefully you've drilled for that before it happens, and you're not having a fire drill for the first time after you get breached."
The attacker of the New York Magazine web site used a specialized Distributed Denial of Service, or DDOS, attack which targets vulnerabilities in a "ping back feature" present in thousands of sites, according to Krebs.
The feature allows sites to be notified when another site links to their content, and the hacking group is abusing that feature to take down NYMag.com.
Vikingdom2016 has boasted about its tactics on Twitter, and say it has more attacks planned.