The British teen who hacked Sony, Microsoft and RuneScape is getting two years in jail
At the age of 16, British teenager Adam Mudd carried out more than 1.7 million attacks against websites and online services with his Titanium Stresser program. Mudd, now 20, pleaded guilty to all charges over his two-day hearing and, according to The Guardian, “ Mudd showed no emotion as he was sent to a young offender institution” for his two-year sentence.
Mudd’s Titanium Stresser program was a hacker or online troll’s dream, allowing customers to issue thousands of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks for a small sum of money. His creation was then used to flood the likes of Minecraft, Xbox Live, Microsoft, Team Speak and PlayStation Network servers. It also brought the long-running online game RuneScape to its knees – all while earning Mudd a tidy sum of over £386,000 in US dollars and bitcoins.
Mudd was charged with wreaking havoc “from Greenland to New Zealand, from Russia to Chile” with his crimes. Not only did his program cause serious damage, allowing more than 112,000 users to hack over 660,000 IP addresses (53,000 of which were in the UK) to carry out DDoS attacks, but Mudd himself also personally carried out 594 DDoS attacks on 181 IP addresses from December 2013 to March 2015.
RuneScape was one such target, being hit by 25,000 separate attacks. Resolving the problem cost developer Jagex £6 million in defending itself against DDoS attacks and resulted in a revenue loss of £184,000.
Mudd also admitted to security breaches against West Herts College while he was studying at the institution. Not only did he crash the college network, which cost the school £2,000 to investigate and causing “incalculable” damage to faculty productivity, but a later attack in 2014 had a knock-on effect on 70 other schools and colleges and local councils.
In mitigation, Mudd claimed that one of the attacks against his college was in response to staff allegedly ignoring a mugging that he had previously reported.
The presiding judge, Michael Topolski, said that Mudd’s sentence needed to have a “real element of deterrent”, explaining how he wouldn’t lessen the term despite the defence team’s plea for leniency. According to his defence attorney, Mudd was “sucked into the cyberworld of online gaming and was ‘lost in an alternate reality’ after withdrawing from school because of bullying.” The court also heard that Mudd had undiagnosed Asperger syndrome and was more interested in status in the online gaming community than the money.
However, judge Topolski believed Mudd was suffiently responsible for his actions to warrant the full two-year sentence. “I’m entirely satisfied that you knew full well and understood completely that this was not a game for fun,” he explained to Mudd. “It was a serious money-making business and your software was doing exactly what you created it to do.”
Mudd created the Titanium Stresser program in September 2013 using a fake name and address in Manchester, despite living in Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. The Guardian reports that he offered various payment plans to customers, including discounts on bulk purchases of up to $309.99 for 30,000 seconds over five years, alongside a refer-a-friend scheme to boost business.
Mudd pleaded guilty to one count of committing unauthorised acts, with intent to impair the operation of computers; one count of making, supplying or offering to supply an article for use in an offence contrary to the Computer Misuse Act; and one count of concealing criminal property.