What just happened? In 2016 the Mirai botnet attacked the internet viciously, taking down Twitter, Netflix and Reddit. It’s now been revealed that its creators, Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman, have already spent over 1000 hours working for the FBI. The FBI has requested their sentences be modified to remove prison time, but add 2500 hours of community service that involves further work for the FBI.
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."