United States says hacker to plead guilty for role in 2016 cyber attacks

Mirai botnet attackers plead guilty for roles in 2016 internet cyberattack

One of the men, Jha, plead guilty to also launching a botnet attack on Rutgers University where he was a student, which took down the school's computer network.

Mirai emerged in late 2016 and was the first significant botnet to target IoT, or "Internet of Things" devices - non-traditional devices that are connected to the internet, including surveillance cameras and digital video recorders, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Downing told reporters on a conference call. The guilty plea also reveals Jha's motivation for the attack, and it's less exotic than you might think.

A statement from the DoJ said on 8 December, Paras Jha, 21, of Fanwood, New Jersey; Josiah White, 20, of Washington, Pennsylvania; and Dalton Norman, 21, of Metairie, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act in operating the Mirai botnet.

Paras Jha, 21, of Fanwood, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, U.S. officials announced, after he pled guilty to his involvement in a series of distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS), between November 2014 and September 2016. The operator uses ensnared, vulnerable devices to flood a domain or server with bandwidth, which in turn can prevent legitimate access from accessing sites and services. The botnet was used against Krebs' site and to attack internet firm Dyn in July 2016, which blocked access within the United States to several major websites, including Amazon, the New York Times, and Spotify. The plea agreement says Jha and his cohorts built the botnet to launch denial of service attacks against business competitors and others against whom they held grudges and to make money from renting the botnet to others.

The Dyn assault happened after Mirai's source code was published, and the individuals identified Wednesday have not been charged in connection with that particularly DDoS attack. Jha had been outed by Krebs on 18 January 2017 following an investigation.

Although DDoS attacks are nothing new, the Mirai botnet demonstrates new levels of firepower that can cripple web services. Then later in the year, Norman had helped the two to expand the size of their botnet by exploiting even more vulnerabilities in the IoT devices.

Prosecutors said they don't believe the three men were responsible for that attack, as Jha had already posted the code for Mirai to online criminal forums.

The count to which Jha pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of Dollars 250,000, or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain or loss derived from the offence, whichever is greater.

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