The three young hackers expected to be sentenced to work for the FBI instead of jail time.
The three notorious hackers behind one of the most powerful pieces of malware ever used on the open internet, the Mirai Botnet, have been working with the FBI for more than a year…according to documents filed in a US court last week.
The Mirai botnet charged round the internet in 2016 and was responsible for causing havoc across networks world wide.
The three young adult males who designed and released Mirai are still due in court this week to be sentenced for their actions. In a bizarre twist to the story however, the presiding judge in the case is expected to accede to an FBI request that they be sentenced to work for the FBI, instead of spending time in jail.
The three young hackers, Josiah White, Paras Jha, and Dalton Norman, who were aged between 18-20 years old when they released the malicious code in 2016 all pleaded guilty last December to creating and distributing Mirai.
Short term chaos
As we reported back in 2016: “Mirai works by spreading itself across the internet searches for “vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the Internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords. Vulnerable devices are then seeded with malicious software that turns them into “bots,” forcing them to report to a central control server that can be used as a staging ground for launching powerful DDoS attacks designed to knock Web sites offline”.”
Despite the havoc and chaos Mirai caused across the internet, the cure for infected devices of Mirai was and still is relatively simple. Simply reboot the device in question. Mirai can currently only exist in memory. But if users don’t then change the default IoT device password they are extremely liable to be hacked again by Mirai in just a few minutes.
Ironically, Mirai was far more effective than any of the three hackers initially realised, and as law enforcement closed in on them, the hackers panicked and released the source code onto the internet, in a bid to hide their tracks.
A twist of fate
However, the defendants have apparently become a vital part of an FBI cyber squad based in Anchorage, Alaska.
“The defendants have advanced computer skills and, through years of criminal activity and academic pursuit, developed expertise in botnets and denial of service attacks,” wrote the prosecutor in the case. “The FBI… worked closely with the defendants to apply those skills in novel ways to benefit the Government.”