The concept of ethical or whitehat hacking is nothing new. There is some merit to the "it takes a thief to catch a thief" mentality, and using the same tools employed by malicious attackers to test and fortify networks rather than compromising them. However, when the blackhats start selling "whitehat" hacking tool kits there is good reason to be skeptical.
The Russian Hacking marketplace site displays the following marketing lure, "Russia Hackers is pleased to announce RH2.5 KIt ver 2011 that users can use to hack & secure computer systems by knowing exactly how a hacker would break into it."
The list of hacking tools and techniques contained in the RH2.5 Kit ver 2011 includes malware development, exploit development guide, credit card hacking, and how to download any Apple apps free of cost. But wait, there's more! You also get advice and guidance for how to spread your malicious attack to 100,000 victims per day--all very important tools for ethical "whitehat" hackers to employ in protecting a network.
Fred Touchette of AppRiver explains in a blog post, "While some of these tools can be and are used by true security professionals, such as SET (The Social Engineers Toolkit) and Metasploit, many of them have no ethical purpose whatsoever."
And that is just the PDF guide--normally $200 USD, but on sale now for a mere $100. If you invest $250 (also half off the "normal" price of $500), you get actual tools and services including a Yahoo Messenger zero-day exploit, DDOS (distribute denial of service) attack shells, and an e-mail bomber capable of blasting one million annoying spam e-mail messages at a time.
Touchette adds "This one even includes access to one of the latest botnets out there--SpyEye. SpyEye, has been going toe to toe with its rival Zeus since late last year, and has been making some pretty big waves in the security community. I'm not sure how leveraging this botnet and all of the innocent PCs turned zombies is in any way even close to ethical."
There is value to using the same tools and techniques employed by malicious hackers as an exercise to identify and mitigate weak points in the network defenses, but the majority of the tools and services covered by the Russia Hackers toolkit have absolutely no place in any whitehat hacker or ethical security professional bag of tricks.
Touchette sums up, "As long as malignant groups of hackers remain out there making attempts to subsidize their other criminal activities by selling their warez as well, especially for this cheap, we're going to continue to see attacks from the script kiddies and the professional cybercriminals continue to grow."