When I was in school, to get out of a test, I'd feign a fever by holding a thermometer up to a lightbulb. Today, students are hiring hackers on the darknet to attack their school servers with a Distributed Denial of Service. Kids these days.
"In the new digital era, students are looking to cheat the system just like those of the past," Daniel Smith, a security researcher at the cybersecurity company Radware, said in an email. "The only difference is they're using computers now and run the risk of facing lengthy charges if caught."
One new way to cheat the system is tapping into remote corners of the internet that can only be accessed through special tools — the Dark Web.
As summer winds down and school nears session again, students can access the Dark Web to hire a hacker to change their grades, attack their school's network with a DDoS, buy drugs and more, a Radware spokesperson said in an email.
"Students in general are increasingly use the Darknet for various activities, and we have seen a tremendous uptick in education attacks over the past 18 months," Smith said.
Radware's customers are often educational institutions, a spokesperson said, so the company would be aware of the attack as it happens and subsequently work to protect a school's network from an outage or a slowdown in the event of an attack.
This isn't that surprising — more people than ever are buying drugs on the Dark Web, and Radware reported in May there was an increase in cyberattacks on educational institutes, linked to the tools available on the Dark Web. Motivations include the intention to "delay a test, manipulate the registration process" or an aggression-fueled attack by a student or staff member on the school.
For example, there is a service called PirateCRACKERS on the Dark Web that, among its many services, offers Grades Change, which, for one bitcoin, will change a grade, a missed class, "among other things." Vim's DDoS Service on the Dark Web offers to attack a school network for a fee.
If students want to perform such a hack but lack the ability to hack themselves, Smith said they could search for these services on the Dark Web through search engines like Torch and Onion Link.
"The operators behind these services are just like any other vendor in existence and engage marketing," Smith said. "They advertise their services via stunt hacking, social media post, forums and private offerings."
Oh, to be young again.