A Utah resident named Austin Thompson has pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego for performing DDoS attacks against multiple victims from 2013 to 2014. These victims ranged from small Twitch streamers to major gaming companies such as EA, Sony, and Microsoft.
A DDoS attack, or Distributed Denial of Service attack, is when a large amount of traffic is sent to a server from many locations at once. If the traffic is large enough, it can cause the servers to go offline due to the attack filling up available bandwidth, processing power, or web server connections.
Between 2013 and 2014 a Twitter user going by the handle @DerpTrolling would announce on Twitter that they were about to perform an attack on a particular target using their “Gaben Laser Beam”. After an attack went live, the Twitter account would tweet screenshots of the attack’s effects or taunt the victim.
You can see examples of tweets by DerpTrolling below.
Xbox Live login servers #offline
— Derp Trolling (@DerpTrolling) January 4, 2014
We’ve directed the Gaben Laser Beam™ @ the EA login servers. Origin #offline
— Derp Trolling (@DerpTrolling) January 3, 2014
Our boys are only targeting EU PS2 servers at the moment. Sony’s server status is not automatic which is why they all say “UP”. such bad.
— Derp Trolling (@DerpTrolling) January 1, 2014
According to an announcement by the Department of Justice, Thomas pleaded guilty to conducting these DDoS attacks and that the actions caused at least $95,000 in damages.
“The attacks took down game servers and related computers around the world, often for hours at a time,” stated the DOJ announcement. “According to the plea agreement, Thompson’s actions caused at least $95,000 in damages.”
Sentencing is expected to be on March 1, 2019 with a maximum penalty of 10 years prison, $250,000 fine, and 3 years supervised release.