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The Hail Mary Cloud was a botnet that slowly and intelligently attempted to bruteforce SSH logins. Why was it dubbed the Hail Mary Cloud though?

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closed as too localized by Ninefingers, Rory Alsop Apr 8 '12 at 9:39

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The name is just a reference to the Hail Mary Pass:

A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary route in American football refers to any very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half.

It's been used as a metaphor for anything desparate with little chance for success, which brute force attacks always are. If you read how it works it's sorta clever, for brute force, but each action is very low chance of working, which is why it needs a Cloud to work:

Each attempt in theory has monumental odds against succeeding, but occasionally the guess will be right and they have scored a login.

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It turns out the page you linked to has the answer

The attack is called "Hail Mary", because it should take a miracle to break in to a foreign system by "guessing passwords".

Also, it is worth noting that the third google result for "Hail Mary" is The "Hail Mary" Pass, which is a football term along the same lines. A second, somewhat obvious way that gives you an answer.

This may explain why your question received a down vote.

But then again, "Hindsight is 20-20".

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I missed the comment in my link, but I'd have never put the two together because I know zero about American football anyway! – Matty Apr 7 '12 at 20:10
I know the feeling. I've asked several downvoted questions myself. Only some of them last, others get deleted which is nice. – George Bailey Apr 7 '12 at 20:54
I lost a few worthless points but got two fantastic answers that satisfied my curiosity! I'll live! Thanks for your answer - shame I couldn't accept both. – Matty Apr 7 '12 at 21:17

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