What is a Virtual Shakedown?

There is a criminal element in the many recent DDoS attacks we have witnessed over the past few years. We were trying to think of a way to describe them, and the best we could come up with is a “virtual shakedown“.

If you ever watch the mafia movies like Godfather, Goodfellas or Casino you would know what I mean. A shakedown happens when a known person of power and/or wealth is approached and asked “Hey buddy, nice business you got there. You will need some protection. It will cost you, though.”

That’s the basic premise. In legalese it is called extortion but we’re not lawyers so we are only guessing that a shakedown and extortion are pretty much the same thing.

So, what does this have to do with cloud computing you ask? Well let me tell you, the criminal element is going online. It’s much easier to extort from people you don’t even know. And the most likely targets are not the sort of businesses that get front-page coverage. They are small businesses running online services and apps. The criminal element doesn’t want press. They feed on gullibility. And this time emails and a huge amount of directed web traffic from compromised computers and protocols are used instead of a baseball bat or gun.

About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.