DerpTrolling game server DoS attacker pleads guilty

A man accused of carrying out DoS attacks against high-profile gaming companies and other organizations has pleaded guilty to his role in the DerpTrolling campaign.

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On Wednesday, Austin Thompson, a resident of Utah, admitted his guilt in a federal court in San Diego.

According to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), Thompson was the individual behind DerpTrolling, which carried out a series of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks between 2013 and 2014.

DerpTrolling seemed to vanish after 2014 before reemerging in 2016, but this did not stop law enforcement from attempting to track the perpetrators down.

It was originally assumed that DerpTrolling — which announced its attacks through the @DerpTrolling handle on the Twitter platform — was a group, but the DoJ has implied it was potentially one man behind the attacks after all.

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The 23-year-old conducted a series of attacks against gaming companies and their servers. Victims included Sony Online Entertainment, Valve’s Steam, EA, and Varga’s League of Legends platform, among others.

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When asked by Varga why the attacks were taking place, DerpTrolling replied, “For the lulz.”

Through its Twitter handle, DerpTrolling also allowed followers to make requests for websites or services to be taken down by calling a number or sending a text message.

Thompson launched DoS attacks against online gaming platforms to prevent legitimate users from being able to access services. This was achieved by flooding networks with illegitimate traffic able to overload servers, causing service disruption and crashes.

Law enforcement says that many of these attacks were successful, often taking down services for “hours at a time.” In total, it is estimated that the attacks caused a minimum of $95,000 in damages.

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Thompson admitted his guilt as part of a plea agreement.

“Denial-of-service attacks cost businesses millions of dollars annually,” said US Attorney Adam Braverman. “We are committed to finding and prosecuting those who disrupt businesses, often for nothing more than ego.”

Sentencing is due to take place on March 1, 2019, on charges of damage to a protected computer. Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.

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