Mirai Masterminds Plead Guilty

Three men have pleaded guilty to building and operating the infamous Mirai botnet, which subsequently knocked over some of the world’s most popular websites late last year.

Paras Jha, 21, of Fanwood, New Jersey, Josiah White, 20, of Washington, Pennsylvania and Dalton Norman, 21, of Metairie, Louisiana admitted conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act.

They exploited vulnerabilities in IoT devices to conscript them into the botnet, comprising over 300,000 compromised endpoints, according to the Department of Justice.

This botnet was then used to launch DDoS attacks against various organizations. The three would apparently seek to extort money from their victims to call off the attacks or sell them DDoS mitigation services via Jha and White’s Protraf Solutions company.

However, they weren’t responsible for the attack on DNS firm Dyn which took out some of the biggest names on the web including Spotify, PayPal and Twitter, according to Reuters.

The DoJ explained:

“The defendants’ involvement with the original Mirai variant ended in the fall of 2016, when Jha posted the source code for Mirai on a criminal forum. Since then, other criminal actors have used Mirai variants in a variety of other attacks.”

Jha and Norman also pleaded guilty to violating the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act with a separate scheme in which they built a clickfraud botnet of 100,000 compromised devices including internet routers.

Finally, Jha pleaded guilty to a third charge related to a series of DDoS attacks on the networks of Rutgers University.

These took out a key portal used by staff, faculty and students for days at a time, disrupting assignments and assessments.

“The Mirai and Clickfraud botnet schemes are powerful reminders that as we continue on a path of a more interconnected world, we must guard against the threats posed by cyber-criminals that can quickly weaponize technological developments to cause vast and varied types of harm,” said acting assistant attorney general John Cronan. 

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