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Hackers behind Mirai botnet switch sides and join FBI to avoid prison time

By mongeese · 18 replies
Sep 22, 2018
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  1. The three boys have done everything the FBI could ask of them and are well on their way to becoming the next James Bonds. Not one of the formerly-rogue hackers is even 25 yet, and FBI Anchorage has all but admitted that they’re better than the FBI’s own.

    In March this year, a dangerous new DDoS attack type emerged: Memcached. Memcached is a system that keeps websites running smoothly by caching frequently requested or large items, but it could be easily abused by hackers who would upload extraneous data to the cache and then request it excessively. Because of new techniques developed by the reformed hackers, however, “within a matter of weeks, attacks utilizing Memcached were functionally useless.”

    They’ve also developed several key programs being employed by law enforcement. One of the most significant is a program that can analyse cryptocurrency wallets and examine private keys, allowing non-specialised law enforcement agents to better understand the technology while on the field. Another program allowed the FBI to determine who had been affected by the Kelihos botnet.

    They’ve even been undercover, infiltrating criminal hacking groups and recording incriminating evidence. The list of what they’ve done goes on and on, and they’re “tremendously dedicated” to helping: they were even preventing cybercrime over Christmas.

    When they originally pleaded guilty to creating Mirai in December, it was expected that they would receive the maximum sentence: five years imprisonment, $250,000 in fines and the seizure of all their cryptocurrency holdings. However, the FBI believes that most of the damages caused by Mirai weren’t their intention but rather a result of their naivety in selling Mirai code. That, added with the fact that they’ve proven themselves eager and qualified to help, meant that the FBI requested an “85% reduction” in their sentence.

    On Tuesday, the court handed down their sentence: five years of probation and 2500 hours of community service each. "The perpetrators count on being technologically one step ahead of law enforcement officials. The plea agreement with the young offenders, in this case, was a unique opportunity for law enforcement officers and will give FBI investigators the knowledge and tools they need to stay ahead of cyber criminals around the world."

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2018
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,289   +4,947

    Who didn't see this coming?
    Clamyboy74 and psycros like this.
  3. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 378   +405

    This is great and a long time coming. The FBI techs always reminded me of customers of our computer shop that come in and admit they're "computer illiterate". They need to flip the rest of the young very bright hackers to help in the fight against black hats.
    Clamyboy74 and psycros like this.
  4. frostyshield

    frostyshield TS Booster Posts: 87   +89

    I just wonder how much $$$ they're earning working with the FBI lol
  5. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Evangelist Posts: 667   +258

    probably none. after all they didn't go to prison. I'm sure they have ways to make or get money, they are hackers in the end.

    it's good to see black hats turn white hats. you don't see it as much in the real world as you do on TV or at least you don't here about it.
    would be nice if a gaming dev would recruit one of these n stop the cheating in games. Unless as some know, the dev's or pubs are behind some of the cheats getting kick backs.

    Hackers can stop a powerful botnet or virus, they can certainly stop simple cheating in games.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,289   +4,947

    Devs don't want to stop cheats. That would take away from their own abilities.
  7. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 739   +284

    So that's how the FBI recruits
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  8. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,945   +1,211

    Here, let me fix your headline.

    "The US Government are THREATENING young hackers by showing them pictures of their
    potential cell mates"
    killmess and JaredTheDragon like this.
  9. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,914   +3,366

    Young criminals. They were caught and convicted. Much better this then jail.
  10. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,670   +2,433

    Ah, you must be referring to CCP.
  11. screwtrump

    screwtrump TS Rookie

    These three scumbags belong in prison for a minimum of 15 years each, without parole, and fined $10 million each. Punishment for computer fraud and abuse is far too lenient and simply put. It is the biggest reason this kind of crime runs rampant. Same goes for any other white collar crime. Put them all in prison for so long that it destroys their lives and this crap will stop. Instead scumbags like this just get a tiny slap on the wrist which only encourages this unethical and immoral behavior. If they don't like their punishment and refuse to cooperate then simply send them to Guantanamo and force them to eat *ockmeat sandwiches.

    Start treating these little sh*tbags the way they deserve to be treated and this crap will end. Once people realize this kind of behavior will completely destroy their entire lives, instead of bolstering their resume's, these problems will begin to become a thing of the past.

    Obviously their will always be bad actors and some may say, if we don't recruit these bad actors and give them everything they want then how will we catch the bag guys, domestic or foreign?... Incentivize good behavior and have a constant nationwide recruitment program for intelligent individuals who show strong signs of ethics and skills in the areas needed by the FBI, NSA, CIA, etc. You also run a form of bug bounty programs with strict rules on ethics.

    To give scumbags like these individuals such incredibly ridiculous so-called punishment is only encouraging the problem.
  12. Knot Schure

    Knot Schure TS Addict Posts: 254   +110

    Since it seems you got much off of your chest, allow me to retort...

    The authorities are on the back foot in 2018 - Black Hat hackers can (and do) what they please with regards to crime online, and there is little our law enforcement (ripe with nepotism) can do without the specialists skills on staff.

    These hackers are needed to better understand what is going on. Think of Frank William Abagnail, with regards to check fraud - he ended up contributing much to financial security, all from a desk in an FBI office.

    If you think these kids would be better off in a US prison (which is completely unmanaged, dangerous, and brutal), rather than helping the rest of us, I say you know nothing.

    2,500 hours with a 45 hour week, is over a year of full time work... but I think it should have been 10,0000.
    killmess and Danny101 like this.
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,289   +4,947

    Not to mention there are no legal options to learn these skills. Pretty much the same concept of police going undercover. Some things can not be done without getting your hands dirty.
  14. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 739   +284

    Screwtrump, you're forgetting about nation states. It'll never stop. You can't punish it out existence.
  15. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TS Guru Posts: 490   +38

    Dude, it is the American Government: It is probably more accurate to say black hats turned grey hats in this instance...
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,289   +4,947

  17. Bp968

    Bp968 TS Booster Posts: 96   +77

    Apparently you've never been a young male. We all make moronic decisions as youths, its just that most of us are not smart enough to make fancy botnets, or we don't get caught when we make some of the stupider of our youthful decisions.

    The problem with super severe punishments is they need to be proportional. So now you get 15-20 years for something that didn't physically harm someone, what do you give to someone who did harm someone? Eventually your handing out endless life sentences or death sentences. Just look to the south or the middle east if you want to see how effective super punative legal systems are (hint, their not). Some of the most crime ridden places on earth also have the most punishing legal systems.

    Mistakes were made. Their serving out their punishment in a far far more useful way then being raped in prison. It may not make you feel as warm and fuzzy knowing their not suffering in prison for a decade+ but thats not really the point. The point is to improve society, by reducing crime and that seems to exactly what their doing.
  18. mongeese

    mongeese TS Addict Topic Starter Posts: 242   +22

    That's a great suggestion, I'll add it now.
  19. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 378   +405

    FBI pays well, at least $140,000 per year. This may not seem like much relative to what the absolute best coders can make, which is close to a million per year at the top tech firms

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