2 Years for Hacker Who Crippled Liberia's Internet With Mirai Botnet

A hacker who crippled internet access in Liberia using the notorious Mirai botnet in 2016 has been sentenced to more than two years in jail. The 30-year-old hacker, Daniel Kaye, was sentenced on Friday in a UK court, according to the country’s National Crime Agency. Last month, he pleaded guilty for his involvement in disrupting internet access in Liberia through the use of botnets, or armies of computers that have been secretly enslaved with a piece of malware.

According to investigators, Kaye had been selling access to his botnets so that his buyers could launch what’s called a DDoS attack, which can overwhelm a website or internet provider with too much traffic, forcing it offline.

A British cyber criminal has been sentenced to two years and eight months for conducting attacks that disrupted a Liberian telecommunications provider, resulting in losses estimated at tens of millions of US dollars. Full story: https://t.co/JFsDw4FdIW pic.twitter.com/xXT0OdEb4d

— NationalCrimeAgency (@NCA_UK) January 11, 2019

Allegedly, one of his buyers was a senior official at Cellcom, a Liberian network provider, who wanted to disrupt the internet services of rival Lonestar MTN. Starting in October 2015, Kaye began carrying out the DDoS attacks on Lonestar in exchange for a retainer fee.

It was months later when Kaye began super-charging his DDoS attacks with the help of new botnet-creating malware called Mirai, which leaked on a hackers’ forum in late September 2016. With Mirai, Kaye was able to easily take over hundreds of thousands of poorly secured internet-connected cameras for malicious purposes. As a result, Kaye bombarded Lonestar’s internet service with a massive amount of traffic that briefly crippled the company’s business across Liberia in November of that year.

The attack was so devastating that Lonestar lost tens of millions in US dollars due to customers leaving the network, UK’s National Crime Agency said. Kaye also used a Mirai botnet to attack Deutsche Telekom in Germany, triggering an internet outage that affected close to a million customers. However, in February 2017, authorities tracked down and arrested Kaye, who was living in Cyprus at the time.

His sentencing comes a year after the original creators of Mirai were also caught and pleaded guilty to creating the notorious malware.

Last month, US federal investigators also took down 15 DDoS-for-hire websites, and warned that buyers of such services could face criminal prosecution.

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