British ‘Spiderman’ Hacker Receives Suspended Sentence In Germany

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A British hacker-for-hire known as “Spiderman” was given a suspended sentence by a German court Friday, but could still face criminal charges in Britain.

According to Reuters, the sentence came after the 29-year-old hacker — identified as Daniel K. — confessed to a cyberattack that caused Internet outages for about 4.5 percent (1 million) of Deutsche Telekom’s 20 million fixed-line customers.

The regional court in Cologne gave Daniel K. a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for attempted commercial computer sabotage. The maximum sentence was up to 10 years. Prosecutors had asked for two years.

“One can’t say exactly what the damages for Telekom are,” the presiding judge, Christof Wuttke, said in handing down the sentence, noting the costs to Germany’s biggest telecom services operator were sizable but not “lasting.”

The court calculated Deutsche Telekom spent about 1 million euros ($1.2 million) because of the hack, with most of the costs coming from having to set up a national hotline for customer complaints and to pay security staff for weekend overtime.

However, Telekom estimated damages of 2 million euros ($2.4 million). A spokeswoman said the company was considering a civil lawsuit.  “We will await the written judgment and weigh if we should go with a civil case,” spokeswoman Alexia Sailer said.

Last November, Daniel K. used a variant of the malicious Mirai botnet code to attack Internet routers and turn them into remotely controlled “bots” for mounting large-scale attacks that spread around the world, knocking out Internet router equipment at up to a dozen telecom operators around the world. Deutsche Telekom was the hardest hit.

British police arrested the hacker in February at Luton airport on a request from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office.  He was charged with selling his botnet to online criminals. He was then sent to Germany for trial, and could face additional charges in the U.K.