Security & Fraud

Hackers Behind Mirai Botnet Plead Guilty

Three computer hackers behind the Mirai botnet, which kicked websites offline last year in cyberattacks, have pleaded guilty to cybercrime.

Citing court documents, Reuters stated on Wednesday (Dec. 13) that former Rutgers University student Paras Jha pleaded guilty in federal court in New Jersey to charges, including writing code that enabled him to infect and control devices. Two other men, Josiah White and Dalton Norman, pleaded guilty to allegations related to developing and using Mirai for criminal gain.

In 2016, the Mirai botnet was employed to infect hundreds of thousands of connected devices, such as webcams. With this army of digital bots, the hackers were then able to attack websites and bring them down in what is known as a denial of service attack.

One of the attacks in October of last year hurt tons of websites in the U.S. and Europe, including Twitter, PayPal and Spotify, among others. The three men listed above were not accused of being behind that specific attack. Jha had reportedly made the botnet last summer to get back at business competitors and others he had a problem with, court documents contend. Jha and the other two alleged hackers were aiming for financial gain by renting out their botnet to other hackers. Jha reportedly tried to hide and destroy evidence.

Late last year a new version of the Mirai computer worm knocked more than 900,000 German ISP Deutsche Telekom customers offline due to infected routers. A newly discovered vulnerability in the firmware of the devices was believed to be the entry point for the botnet, which turned off the remote upgrade feature and complicated restoration efforts.

Earlier in 2016, mainstream sites that users both frequent and rely on were rendered useless due to a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the internet domain directory Dyn. Mirai was behind that as well.

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