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Sony DDoS-er 'DerpTrolling' Pleads Guilty

A notorious cyber-criminal who went under the online moniker 'DerpTrolling' has pleaded guilty to a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks dating back almost five years.

Utah resident, Austin Thompson, 23, pleaded guilty this week in a federal court in San Diego to a charge of “damage to a protected computer.”

The attacks, which took place between December 2013 and January 2014, were targeted at online gaming companies including Sony Online Entertainment.

Thompson typically used the @DerpTrolling Twittter account to announce his intended corporate victims and to post screenshots confirming his handiwork.

According to the Department of Justice plea agreement, Thompson forced gaming servers and other equipment out of action for hours at a time in some cases, causing at least $95,000 in damages.

“Denial-of-service attacks cost businesses millions of dollars annually,” said California US attorney Adam Braverman. “We are committed to finding and prosecuting those who disrupt businesses, often for nothing more than ego.”

The maximum penalty for Thompson’s crime is a decade behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Kirill Kasavchenko, EMEA principal security technologist at Netscout Security, claimed that online gaming is a top target for DDoS-ers.

“Online gaming is a well-documented motivation for DDoS attacks. According to our annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, it was ranked the top attack motivation in the service provider space, leaving extortion attempts and attack capability demonstration behind. Anyone who might be considering taking this wrong path needs to understand that they can be caught and held to account,” he argued.

“In the past, notorious hacking groups evaded justice despite causing huge disruption and financial damage. This plea deal hammers home the very real risk of launching a cyber-attack. Tracking techniques are evolving all the time, so there should be no doubt that you can be prosecuted for such malicious actions."

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