×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hacker behind DDoS attacks on Daybreak Games gets two year prison sentence

In 2013, Daybreak Games (previously known as Sony Online Entertainment) suffered a DDoS attack at the hands of DerpTrolling, a hacking group operated by Austin Thomspon of Utah. DerpTrolling also targeted League of Legends, Dota 2, and Battle.net with similar tactics. Thomspon plead guilty as part of a plea deal back in November 2018. The 23-year-old hacker received sentencing in federal court yesterday and now faces 27 months in prison. Charged with Damage to a Protected Computer, Thompson must also pay $95,000 to Daybreak Games in restitution.

"A denial-of-service (DoS) attack occurs when legitimate users are unable to access information systems, devices, or other network resources due to the actions of a malicious cyber threat actor," explained the announcement from the Southern District of California U.S. Attorney's Office. "Essentially the hacker floods the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate purposes."

Thompson's sentence starts on August 23. His DDoS attacks preceded the now infamous Lizard Squad attacks of Christmas 2014 which shut down both Xbox Live and PSN. Unlike Thompson, those involved in the incident were prosecuted years ago, though the consequences proved less severe overall. Zachary Buchta paid a heftier $350,000 in restitution while serving only three months in prison. Lizard Squad member Julius Kivimaki of Finland received a suspended two-year prison sentence and was ordered to combat cyber crime.

Kivimaki's lenient punishment sparked controversy, especially with Daybreak Games CEO John Smedley. Kivimaki reportedly harassed the executive several times, including grounding his plane by calling in a bomb threat, leaking personal information, stealing his identity, and prompting a SWAT team to raid his house. 

DDoS attacks have grown less common since 2014. It appears the charges brought against groups like DerpTrolling and Lizard Squad may have had the desired effect. "Denial-of-service attacks cost businesses and individuals millions of dollars annually," said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. "We are committed to prosecuting hackers who intentionally disrupt internet access."