Low Orbit Ion Cannon is a Denial of Service (DoS) application which has been released into the public domain and 2012 has brought an alarming increase in the number of application downloads.

The idea behind LOIC is that it can allow you to participate in DoS attacks even if you’ve no clue how to really use a computer.  DoS attacks are launched with the intention of attempting to make a computer or network unavailable to its intended users and the usual targets are high profile web-servers such as banks.  LOIC performs a DoS attack (or when used by multiple individuals, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack) on a target site by flooding the server with transmission control protocol packets or user datagram protocol packets with the intention of disrupting the service of a particular host.  In other words, the target becomes overloaded with data and temporarily shuts off.  In the same way, a website can be overloaded through the sheer volume of legitimate users, as in the Glastonbury tickets website or a news website when a big story breaks.    

It was recorded, at the beginning of this month, that the number of LOIC downloads in 2012 have already surpassed the total number of downloads for 2011, that being 381,976.  The fact that this was only four months into the year indicates just how much interest in this software has increased.  To put this into perspective, this equates to 3,432 downloads per day or two per minute.   

Downloads numbers have in fact reduced since earlier this year, when a large number of downloads were driven by publicised attacks on the FBI and other government agencies.  It is believed that the reduction is also largely due to the conversion of LOIC into a JavaScript version that requires no download: use of LOIC will continue to increase exponentially. 

LOIC downloads have significantly increased since 2011 and the rate of increase clearly poses a worrying statistic.  Cybercrime is on the up and with applications such as LOIC now more widely available to the general public than ever before, it seems that the community of hackers is spreading.