A U.S. Federal Court has sentenced, Austin Thompson of Utah, the man responsible for the DDoS attacks against multiple video game companies in late 2013 and early 2014 including Daybreak Games, at the time Sony Online Entertainment, to 27 months in prison starting on August 23. Thompson has officially been charged with “damage to a protected computer.”
DDoS or distributed denial of service attacks happen when someone hacks a service and causes a spike in Internet traffic that causes users from accessing key information and network services and causes the service to go offline. “Essentially the hacker floods the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate purposes.” The U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer stated, “We are committed to prosecuting hackers who intentionally disrupt internet access.”
Denial-of-service attacks cost businesses and individuals millions of dollars annually.
Thompson apparently used the Twitter account belonging to the hacking group DerpTrolling to announce the plans to perform a DDoS attack against the targeted companies. He would then post screenshots of the targeted companies’ servers being down to the Twitter account to showcase the “successful” attacks.
The plea agreement from November 2018 stated that the attack against Daybreak Games cost the company “at least $95,000 in damages.” The U.S. Federal Court has since ordered Thompson to pay that $95,000 amount in restitution to the company. Aside from Daybreak Games, other services that were targeted included Blizzard’s Battle.net, Riot Games’ League of Legends, and Valve’s Dota 2.
This wasn’t the only time the then Sony Online Entertainment was attacked by hackers. Later in 2014, the PlayStation Network was suffered an attack that was claimed by the hacker group known as Lizard Squad. They then sent out a bomb threat against the then Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley, which caused the plane he was on to be diverted. A year later, Daybreak Games suffered a DDoS attack that Lizard Squad claimed credit for after Smedley publicly voiced his frustrations that the person who made the bomb threat would receive no jail time.