Teen hacker behind DDOS attacks on Minecraft and Runescape sentenced to 2 years in prison

DDOS attacks are fast. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of machines pound a server in unision, again and again, flooding it with so much attention that it collapses. Justice isn't so swift, but eventually some hackers behind distributed denial of service attacks do get what's coming to them. That happened this week, as The Guardian reports a teen who created and ran a DDOS service called Titanium Stresser has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Adam Mudd of the UK didn't just create and launch denial of service attacks, which would be bad enough. As cybersecurity expert Krebs on Security describes Titanium Stresser, it was "a simple-to-use service that let paying customers launch crippling online attacks against Web sites and individual Internet users… According to U.K. prosecutors, Mudd’s Titanium Stresser service was used by others in more than 1.7 million denial-of-service attacks against victims worldwide, with most countries in the world affected at some point."

Those attacks affected Minecraft, Microsoft services, and the MMO Runescape. According to The Guardian, Runescape's developers spent £6 million trying to stave off the DDOS attacks. Mudd plead guilty to a charge of 'committing unauthorized acts with intent to impair the operation of computers,' a charge of 'making, supplying, or offering to supply an article for use in an offense contrary to the Computer Misuse Act,' and a charge of of concealing criminal property.

Mudd admitted to carrying out some of the attacks himself, including ones against his college. According to the arguments in the case, selling access to Titanium Stresser was never about the money for Mudd. It was about status in the online community. The Guardian reports that Mudd's lawyer, Ben Cooper, argued that he had been "'lost in an alternate reality' after withdrawing from school because of bullying" and knew what he had done was wrong, but lacked empathy for his victims. Mudd has autism, and his lawyer argued that he had been "seeking friendships and status within the gaming community." 

Despite the medical condition, the judge ruled that Mudd, now 20, would serve out a two year sentence in a young offender institution, saying "“I have a duty to the public who are worried about this, threatened by this, damaged by this all the time."

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).