- Kacper Pempel/Reuters
- In 2013, several video game companies were targeted by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that limited access to their online services and forced them offline in some cases.
- The attacks triggered an FBI investigation centered on the Twitter account @DerpTrolling, which had announced the attacks in advance.
- Austin Thompson, 23-year-old, a native of Utah, pled guilty to one count of damage to a protected computer, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California announced earlier this week that Austin Thompson, 23, had entered a guilty plea for one count of damage to a protected computer following an investigation by the FBI’s San Diego field office.
Operating under the Twitter handle @DerpTrolling, Thompson made a sport of incapacitating popular online gaming networks with denial-of-service attacks when he was a teenager, between December 2013 and January 2014.
The plea agreement describes how Thompson would announce the attacks in advance via the @DerpTrolling Twitter account and later share screenshots and more tweets as evidence of a successful attack.
Took 10% of our network to take down the entirety of Sony's California location, they were forced to null route 18.104.22.168. #nulled
— Derp Trolling (@DerpTrolling) January 1, 2014
Multiple online gaming services, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and League of Legends were targeted by @DerpTrolling. The attacks resulted in significant downtime and delays, and the U.S Attorney reports at least $95,000 in damages as a result of Thompson’s actions.
There’s still no stated motive for the DoS attacks. The DerpTrolling account seemed satisfied with disrupting online gaming and creating chaos, going so far as to take requests from followers. The U.S. Attorney’s office states that Thompson is 23-years-old, which would make him 18 at the time of the crime.
Damage to a protected computer is a federal felony charge and Thompson could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 with three years supervised release. Thompson’s sentencing is set for March 1st, 2019.