Mirai botnet hacker behind 2016 web outage pleads guilty

Mirai Botnet Creators Plead Guilty: Here's What The 3 Hackers Did And What Awaits Them

Three U.S. -based men-Paras Jha, Dalton Norman and Josiah White-admitted their role in creating and using the Mirai botnet to carry out the attacks, though prosecutors say the defendants had not originally meant to take down large swathes of the internet, only gain an advantage in Minecraft.

However, Krebs claimed that the two students were often either behind the DDoS attacks that they offered to mitigate or used DDoS attacks as a form of extortion against legitimate businesses - or organisations against which they held a grudge.

The three hackers jointly developed the source code behind Mirai, and expanded its capabilities to infect IoT devices including home internet routers, according to United States investigators.

Court documents allege that they created Mirai in order to launch revenge attacks against competitors and people they didn't like. On Tuesday, the documents were unsealed.

Although DDoS attacks are nothing new, the Mirai botnet demonstrates new levels of firepower that can cripple web services.

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Of the three, Jha appears to be the lead mastermind; he developed the computer code behind the Mirai malware starting in July 2016. They also admitted to using the Mirai botnet as a source of revenue by renting it out to third parties and extorting companies into making payments to avoid being targeted by DDoS attacks. In addition to the the charges filed in Alaska, Jha also pleaded guilty today to charges filed in New Jersey that addressed attacks Jha enacted against Rutgers University networks between 2014 and 2016. He and White are likely the authors of Mirai malware that has since been used by other criminals as well to enslave Internet of Things for use in large scale DDoS attacks. Jha and his co-conspirators also designed the malware to rapidly spread by exploiting previously unknown vulnerabilities in IoT devices.

The Mirai botnet was used to infect large numbers of internet-connected devices including webcams and video records, which were then turned into a digital army of bots that launched a series of attacks on websites and Internet infrastructure. Not only did Jha erase the virtual machine he was using to control Mirai, but he also posted the Mirai source code online to further evade law enforcement actions.

In August 2016, defendant PARAS JHA engaged in a feud with rival DDOS botnet operators, during which period JHA generated and sent fraudulent abuse complaints to hosting providers associated with the rival group. The scheme was quite profitable, generating 100 bitcoins, or $180,000 back in January.

For the conspiracy charges of creating and operating the Mirai botnet, the three hackers are facing an unspecified fine and up to five years in prison.

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