A 16-year-old boy suspected of being involved in the attacks on the MasterCard and PayPal sites was arrested yesterday in Holland. At the same time there are threats of DDoS attacks pushing online shopping into meltdown.

This isn’t just one-upmanship between hacktivists supporting Wikileaks and self proclaimed ‘patriotic’ hackers – the collateral damage of this cyberwar could see a number of hackivists behind bars. Whether it is the fact that they are preventing the availability of a public domain or using a collection of machines without the permission of the owners, there is no getting away from the fact that DDoS attacks are illegal.

DDoS attacks will not go away any time soon. There are armies of botnets ready to be activated at any given moment. A significant clean up effort of computers will be required to get a grip of this situation. Botnets are only created through machines that have left themselves vulnerable. To reduce the number of botnets created in the future, organisations and consumers must ensure that all holes within their systems are closed, preventing hackers from taking control in the first place.

Microsoft is set to issue 17 bulletins on Tuesday, three of which close vulnerabilities that enable hackers to launch DDoS attacks. It is important that computer users ensure that they shut the open doors to their computer systems, before more bonnets are created.