An Indian-origin man is among three persons sentenced for their roles in staging a cyberattack that brought down huge swathes of the internet and infected over 100,000 US-based computing devices. Paras Jha, 22, of New Jersey, Josiah White, 21, of Pennsylvania and Dalton Norman, 22, of Louisiana, were sentenced Tuesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess.
They created Mirai Botnet, a powerful malware that knocked out thousands of websites in the Northeast, California, and Western Europe in September 2016. After cooperating extensively with the FBI, Jha, White, and Norman were each sentenced to serve a five-year period of probation, 2,500 hours of community service, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of USD 127,000, and have voluntarily abandoned significant amounts of cryptocurrency seized during the course of the investigation.
In December last year, Jha, White, and Norman pleaded guilty to criminal Informations in the District of Alaska charging them each with conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act in operating the Mirai Botnet. Jha and Norman also pleaded guilty to two counts each of the same charge, one in relation to the Mirai botnet and the other in relation to the Clickfraud botnet.
As part of their sentences, Jha, White, and Norman must continue to cooperate with the FBI on cybercrime and cybersecurity matters, as well as continued cooperation with and assistance to law enforcement and the broader research community. According to court documents, the defendants have provided assistance that substantially contributed to active complex cybercrime investigations as well as the broader defensive effort by law enforcement and the cybersecurity research community.
Jha, White, and Norman became subjects of a federal investigation when, in the summer and fall of 2016, they created a powerful botnet – a collection of computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the knowledge or permission of the computers’ owners. The Mirai Botnet targeted IoT devices – non-traditional computing devices that were connected to the Internet, including wireless cameras, routers, and digital video recorders. Internet of Things (IoT) is an ecosystem of connected physical objects that are accessible through the internet.
Additionally, from December 2016 to February 2017, the defendants successfully infected over 100,000 primarily US-based computing devices, such as home Internet routers, with malicious software. That malware caused the hijacked home Internet routers and other devices to form a powerful botnet. “Cybercrime is a worldwide epidemic that reaches many Alaskans,” said US Attorney Bryan Schroder.
“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.”