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Jail for man who launched DDoS attacks against Skype, Google, and Pokemon Go

A British man has been sentenced to two years in jail after admitting to a series of computer crime offences, which included over 100 attempts to knock the likes of Google, Skype and Nintendo’s popular video game Pokemon Go offline.

21-year-old Alex Bessell pleaded guilty to charges at Birmingham Crown Court that he had accessed computers without authorisation, disrupted computer operations, made and supplied malware, as well as been involved in money laundering.

Operating from his bedroom in Toxteth, Liverpool, Bessell not only had a zombie army of over 9000 hijacked computers under his control to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. He also ran an underground online criminal business called Aiobuy, that earned more than US $700,000 by selling malware code to malicious hackers.

On Aiobuy, Bessell offered 9,077 products for sale, including remote access trojans, crypters (designed to hide malware from anti-virus software), botnet code. and other malicious tools. Law enforcement agencies uncovered evidence of more than 35,000 purchases through the site which had recorded over a million visitors.

DC Mark Bird of the West Midlands Regional Cybercrime Unit, which investigated the case, described Bessell’s conviction as important:

“This is one of the most significant cybercrime prosecutions we’ve seen: he was offering an online service for anyone wanting to carry out a web attack.”

“It meant anyone who had a grudge against an individual or company, or who simply wanted to conduct a cyber-attack, didn’t need the technical know-how themselves. They simply needed to pick a piece of malware, pay the fee, and Bessell would do the rest.”

When police raided Bessell’s home they discovered banking trojans on his computers, designed to steal login credentials. In addition, 750 stolen usernames and passwords were recovered from the computers’ hard drives.

Bessell, who is believed to have been involved in cybercrime since the age of 14, was said by prosecutors to have processed more than US $3 million through PayPal and anonymous cryptocurrencies, retaining a percentage for himself. And yet, until late 2017, he also held down a legitimate job as a driver for the takeaway delivery firm Deliveroo.

From the sound of things, it will be some time before Bessell enjoys the luxury of calling out for a takeaway. His unscrupulous actions helped others to commit thousands of hacking attacks against innocent internet users and businesses.

Bessell will have plenty of time to reflect on how he has screwed up his own life, and inflicted pain and hardship on others, as he tucks into his prison meals for the next couple of years.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.

3 Comments

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    • I believe the word you're after is 'justice'. In which case there is really no such thing; it's a myth designed to make people feel safer in the belief that others are watching over them/others and will make things right – you know, make people pay for their crimes. It doesn't work that way in practise though, and that's why you have people get off way too light or innocents are incarcerated to name two things of many others. There are so many problems with the legal systems in the world but that's what it really is – a legal system. You're right that it seems strangely light and yet one hopes that at his age he'll take a hint. It seems that since he's done it since 14 he might not but there is a chance of it and one can only hope that it actually happens.