A 23-year-old Utah man is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks against multiple online services, websites, and gaming platforms, federal officials said.
Austin Thompson was accused of conducting these attacks between 2013 and 2014, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
The goal of DoS attacks is to completely shut down a network or a computing system, rendering it unusable. This type of attacks can be performed by either sending maliciously crafted data or by flooding the target machine or network to trigger the DoS state, said officials at the DoJ.
Thompson was facing charges of creating damages to a protected computer, which could bring him a maximum of 10 years behind bars, as well as three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Thompson admitted in his plea agreement he took down the servers of multiple gaming companies between December 2013 and January 2014, with the San Diego-based Sony Online Entertainment being one of the targets.
He used the @DerpTrolling Twitter handle to announce attacks, subsequently posting screenshots of the server being unavailable after attacking them using DoS attacks.
Thompson’s attacks usually took down the gaming servers of the companies he targeted for at least a few hours in a row, causing about $95,000 in damages to gaming platforms around the world.
“Denial-of-service attacks cost businesses millions of dollars annually,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “We are committed to finding and prosecuting those who disrupt businesses, often for nothing more than ego.”
Thompson’s sentencing is scheduled for March 1 before United States District Judge Jeffrey Miller.
“In today’s world, cyber crime is an immense threat that affects private, commercial, and government sectors alike,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Brown. “The FBI’s capacity to respond to cyber incidents is enhanced through collaboration with affected industries and partnerships in the community to prevent and combat these threats.”