The wheels of justice turn slow, but they crush with terrible force. One of the hackers behind denial-of-service attacks on Sony Online Entertainment (now Daybreak), Blizzard and Riot Games in late 2013/early 2014 has been sentenced to two years in prison and $95,000 in damages paid to Daybreak. As reported by Polygon, Austin Thompson was part of hacking group “DerpTrolling”, who amused themselves by kicking over game servers and bragging about it on Twitter. The sentencing judge didn’t find it so funny, accepting a guilty plea for “Damage to a protected computer”.
The sentencing announcement (vieweable here) notes that the maximum penalty could have been as high as ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Thompson appears to have been an easy target in this case, running DerpTrolling’s public social media account, announcing in advance that an attack was planned, and then posting pictures confirming the damage done. Public idiocy, for sure.
As Polygon point out, this isn’t the first time a prison sentence has been handed out for a DDoS attack. Still, it’s on the harsher end of things, and comparable to a two year sentence handed out in the UK for creating tools used to perpetrate such attacks. My take is that the fine would have probably been plenty to dissuade repeat offences. While it was undeniably an attack on a corporate computer network, the end result was little more than irritation for end users and a financial hit for the company.
Still, if this sentence doesn’t dissuade others from trying (or at least from doing it so publicly), nothing will. Given that Square Enix just recently announced that their new Final Fantasy XIV expansion launch was accompanied by a DDoS attack, I’d be surprised if this sentence changed much outside of Thompson’s life.