Sentenced to two years as the ‘mastermind’ behind global malware created and sold from his bedroom.

Adam Mudd, from Hertfordshire, England, was only 16 when he created the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Titanium Stresser program in 2013. The malware he designed was responsible for carrying out more than 1.7m attacks on websites in the following months, including games such as Minecraft, Runescape, and websites for Xbox Live, Microsoft, and TeamSpeak, a chat tool that every gamer knows.

Prosecutors alleged that Mudd had earned approximately $500,000 in cash and bitcoin from selling his program to cyber criminals.

UK police's arrest photograph of Mudd. The judge in the case disagreed that money was not a motivating factor.

UK police’s arrest photograph of Mudd. The judge in the case disagreed that money was not a motivating factor.

 

Money not a motivating factor?

Mudd, had at the time, undiagnosed Asperger syndrome, and his defence lawyers argued convincingly, that the then teenager was far more interested in the respect his status as a hacker for hire, and in the online gaming community, than the huge sums of money he reaped. When he was arrested in March 2015, Mudd initially refused to unlock his computer until his father intervened.

The jury in the case heard that the owners of popular online game, RuneScape, was attacked 25,000 times by the Titanium Stressor malware. The company said it had lost the equivalent of $236,000 and had spent over £6 million pounds sterling trying to defend itself from DDoS attacks. At the time of writing, quite how much of that sum was as a direct result of Mudd’s actions was unclear.

Judge didn’t buy it

In sentencing the now 20 year old Judge Michael Topolski said that Mudd “knew full well this was not a game”. Mudd had already pleaded guilty. The judge also noted that Mudd came from a “perfectly respectable and caring family, and that the effect of Mudd’s crimes had wreaked havoc “from Greenland to New Zealand, from Russia to Chile.”

During his brief stint as an international mystery hacker of fortune, Mudd also admitted to targetting over 70 schools and colleges, including Cambridge University and local legislatures.

Mudd will serve his sentence in a young offenders institution. In his concluding remarks, Judge Topolski said: “I’m entirely satisfied that you knew full well and understood completely this was not a game for fun… It was a serious money-making business and your software was doing exactly what you created it to do.”

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