This 15-year-old hacker was minting money with his DDoS tool at an age when others are busy with schooling
What were you doing when you were a 15-year-old? Probably studying hard to make good grades and enter a decent college. When most kids are busy with their academics, a whiz kid hacker was making $$$s with his DDoS tool. Adam Mudd used his hacking and coding skills to wreak vengeance all across the world from Greenland to Newzealand. As a 15-year-old, Mudd reported earned $500,000 from his nefarious activities which caused mayhem amongst Xbox Live users, and players of the computer games Runescape and Minecraft.
Titanium Stresser the Mudd DDoS Tool
At the age of 15, he created a software tool called Titanium Stresser that could carry out DDoS attacks. This simple malware would soon end up causing millions in damages to victims Adam probably never even dreamed about. Going by the alias “themuddfamily” Adam created the malware when he was just 16 back in 2013. Adam personally carried out around 594 attacks, at least one of which targeted West Herts College – the college he studied in. The attacks on West Herts College crashed the network, cost about £2,000 to investigate and caused “incalculable” damage to productivity. His justification for this particular attack being that he was bullied while studying and no action was taken. The rest of his attacks include varied attacks however including the University of Cambridge, University of Essex and the University of East Anglia.Some of his other targets were Minecraft, Xbox Live, and the fantasy game Runescape.
The attacks from the buyers
Though he did carry out approximately 600 attacks right from his bedroom, that’s not the worst of it. By reports of the trail, Mudd also dealt in sales of the tool leading to an exponential growth in the number of attacks taking place. Soon after he created the malware, he began selling it, raking in $307,298.35 and 259.81 bitcoins – worth an overall £386,079 – all this by the time he turned 18. This lead to a grand total of 1.7 million attacks spread across 650,000 victims. One of the worst hit being Runescape which was at the receiving end of 25,000 attacks that cost them a bill of 6 million – mainly in preventive measures.
The reason we are getting to hear about these attacks only now is the result of the trail of Adam Mudd. Jonathan Polnay, the prosecutor, said the effect of Mudd’s hacking program was “truly global”, adding: “Where there are computers, there are attacks – in almost every major city in the world – with hotspots in France, Paris, around the UK.” The court was also notified that Adam suffered from Asperger syndrome which had previously not been diagnosed. As a consequence of this syndrome, Adam was unable to empathize with the victims of his attacks even though he clearly understood that what he did was wrong.
Polnay said: “This is a young man who lived at home. This is not a lavish lifestyle case. The motivation around this we tend to agree is about status. The money-making is by the by.”
Adam though, has confessed to the crimes 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 back in the month of October, although he was sentenced only now.
Ben Cooper the defendant for Mudd pleaded for a lesser sentence claiming that Adam had been “sucked into” the cyber world of online gaming and was “lost in an alternate reality” after withdrawing from school because of bullying. His statement to the court read “This was an unhappy period for Mr Mudd, during which he suffered greatly. This is someone seeking friendship and status within the gaming community.”
Although the presiding judge noted Adam’s condition, he also said he could not avoid pronouncing a sentence. Below is the observations by the presiding judge,
The map of the world showing the geographical spread of these attacks which went on for 18 months is revealing, showing the truly worldwide nature.
IP addresses from Greenland to New Zealand, from Russia to Chile, were attacked.
The capacity for harm in this case was, in my judgment, very great.
There is clear evidence before me not only of actual damage, but also of significant financial benefit to the defendant.
It is now impossible to imagine a world without the internet. There is no part of life that is not touched by it.
In some way, these offences may be relatively easy to commit. But they are increasingly prevalent, and the public is entitled to be protected from them.
I am satisfied that financial gain was not the main motivating factor.
– MICHAEL TOPOLSKI QC, JUDGE