July 11, 2016

Mir Islam, a 21-year-old Brooklyn man who pleaded guilty to an impressive array of cybercrimes including cyberstalking, “doxing” and “swatting” celebrities and public officials (as well as this author), was sentenced in federal court today to two years in prison. Unfortunately, thanks to time served in this and other cases, Islam will only see a year of jail time in connection with some fairly heinous assaults that are becoming all too common.

While Islam’s sentence fell well short of the government’s request for punishment, the case raises novel legal issues as to how federal investigators intend to prosecute ongoing cases involving swatting — an extremely dangerous prank in which police are tricked into responding with deadly force to a phony hostage crisis or bomb scare at a residence or business.

Mir Islam, at his sentencing hearing today. Sketches copyright by Hennessy / CourtroomArt.com

Mir Islam, at his sentencing hearing today. Sketches copyright by Hennessy / CourtroomArt.com. Yours Truly is pictured in the blue shirt behind Islam.

On March 14, 2014, Islam and a group of as-yet-unnamed co-conspirators used a text-to-speech (TTY) service for the deaf to relay a message to our local police department stating that there was an active hostage situation going on at our modest town home in Annandale, Va. Nearly a dozen heavily-armed officers responded to the call, forcing me out of my home at gunpoint and putting me in handcuffs before the officer in charge realized it was all a hoax.

At the time, Islam and his pals were operating a Web site called Exposed[dot]su, which sought to “dox” public officials and celebrities by listing the name, birthday, address, previous address, phone number and Social Security number of at least 50 public figures and celebrities, including First Lady Michelle Obama, then-FBI director Robert Mueller, and then Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan.

Exposed.su also documented which of these celebrities and public figures had been swatted, including a raft of California celebrities and public figures, such as former California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, actor Ashton Kutcher, and performer Jay Z.

Exposed[dot]su was built with the help of identity information obtained and/or stolen from ssndob[dot]ru.

Exposed[dot]su was built with the help of identity information obtained and/or stolen from ssndob[dot]ru.

At the time, most media outlets covering the sheer amount of celebrity exposure at Exposed[dot]su focused on the apparently starling revelation that “if they can get this sensitive information on these people, they can get it on anyone.” But for my part, I was more interested in how they were obtaining this data in the first place.

On March 13, 2013 KrebsOnSecurity featured a story — Credit Reports Sold for Cheap in the Underweb –which sought to explain how the proprietors of Exposed[dot]su had obtained the records for the public officials and celebrities from a Russian online identity theft service called sssndob[dot]ru.

I noted in that story that sources close to the investigation said the assailants were using data gleaned from the ssndob[dot]ru ID theft service to gather enough information so that they could pull credit reports on targets directly from annualcreditreport.com, a site mandated by Congress to provide consumers a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus.

Peeved that I’d outed his methods for doxing public officials, Islam helped orchestrate my swatting the very next day. Within the span of 45 minutes, KrebsOnSecurity.com came under a sustained denial-of-service attack which briefly knocked my site offline.

At the same time, my hosting provider received a phony letter from the FBI stating my site was hosting illegal content and needed to be taken offline. And, then there was the swatting which occurred minutes after that phony communique was sent.

All told, the government alleges that Islam swatted at least 19 other people, although only seven of the victims (or their representatives) showed up in court today to tell similarly harrowing stories (I was asked to but did not testify).

Officers responding to my 2013 swatting incident.

Security camera footage of Fairfax County police officers responding to my 2013 swatting incident.

Going into today’s sentencing hearing, the court advised that under the government’s sentencing guidelines Islam was facing between 37 and 46 months in prison for the crimes to which he’d pleaded guilty. But U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss seemed especially curious about the government’s rationale for charging Islam with conspiracy to transmit a threat to kidnap or harm using a deadly weapon.

Judge Moss said the claim raises a somewhat novel legal question: Can the government allege the use of deadly force when the perpetrator of a swatting incident did not actually possess a weapon?

Corbin Weiss, an assistant US attorney and a cybercrime coordinator with the U.S. Department of Justice, argued that in most of the swatting attacks Islam perpetrated he expressed to emergency responders that any responding officers would be shot or blown up. Thus, the government argued, Islam was using police officers as a proxy for assault with a deadly weapon by ensuring that responding officers would be primed to expect a suspect who was armed and openly hostile to police.

Islam’s lawyer argued that his client suffered from multiple psychological disorders, and that he and his co-conspirators orchestrated the swattings and the creation of exposed[dot]su out of a sense of “anarchic libertarianism,” bent on exposing government overreach on consumer privacy and use of force issues.

As if to illustrate his point, a swatting victim identified by the court only as Victim #4 was represented by Fairfax, Va. lawyer Mark Dycio. That particular victim did not wish to be named or show up in court, but follow-up interviews confirmed that Dycio was representing Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

According to Dycio, police responded to reports of a hostage situation at the NRA boss’s home just days after my swatting in March 2013. Impersonating LaPierre, Islam told police he had killed his wife and that he would shoot any officers responding to the scene. Dycio said police initially had difficulty identifying the object in LaPierre’s hand when he answered the door. It turned out to be a cell phone, but Dycio said police assumed it was a weapon and stripped the cell phone from his hands when entering his residence. The police could have easily mistaken the mobile phone for a weapon, Dycio said.

Another victim that spoke at today’s hearing was Stephen P. Heymann, an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. Heymann was swatted because he helped prosecute the much-maligned case against the late Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer who committed suicide after the government by most estimations overstepped its bounds by charging him with hacking for figuring out an automated way to download academic journals from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Heymann, whose disability requires him to walk with a cane, recounted the early morning hours of April 1, 2013, when police officers surrounded his home in response to a swatting attack launched by Islam on his residence. Heymann recalled worrying that officers responding to the phony claim might confuse his cane with a deadly weapon.

One of the victims represented by a proxy witness in today’s hearings was the wife of a SWAT team member in Arizona who recounted several tense hours hunkered down at the University of Arizona, while her husband joined a group of heavily-armed police officers who were responding to a phony threat about a shooter on the campus.

Not everyone had nightmare swatting stories that aligned neatly with Islam’s claims. A woman representing an anonymous “Victim #3” of Islam’s was appearing in lieu of a cheerleader at the University of Arizona that Islam admitted to cyberstalking for several months. When the victim stopped responding to Islam’s overtures, he phoned in an active shooter threat to the local police there that a crazed gunman was on the loose at the University of Arizona campus.

According to Robert Sommerfeld, police commander for the University of Arizona, that 2013 swatting incident involved 54 responding officers, all of whom were prevented from responding to a real emergency as they moved from building to building and room to room at the university, searching for a fictitious assailant. Sommerfeld estimates that Islam’s stunt cost local responders almost $40,000, and virtually brought the business district surrounding the university to a standstill for the better part of the day.

Toward the end of today’s sentencing hearing, Islam — bearded, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and admittedly 75 pounds lighter than at the time of his arrest — addressed the court. Those in attendance who were hoping for an apology or some show of remorse from the accused were left wanting as the defendant proceeded to blame his crimes on multiple psychological disorders which he claimed were not being adequately addressed by the U.S. prison system. Not once did Islam offer an apology to his victims, nor did he express remorse for his actions.

“I didn’t expect to go as far as I did, but because of these disorders I felt I was invincible,” Islam told the court. “The mistakes I made before, I have to pay for that. I understand that.”

Sentences that noticeably depart from the government’s sentencing guidelines are grounds for appeal by the defendant, and Judge Moss today seemed reluctant to imprison Islam for the maximum 46 months allowed under the criminals statutes to which Islam had admitted to violating. Judge Moss also seemed to ignore the fact that Islam expressed exactly zero remorse for his crimes.

Central to the judge’s reluctance to sentence Islam to the statutory maximum penalty was Islam’s 2012 arrest in connection with a separate cybercrime sting orchestrated by the FBI called Operation Card Shop, in which federal agents created a fake cybercrime forum dedicated to credit card fraud called CarderProfit[dot]biz.

U.S. law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C. involved in prosecuting Islam for his swatting, doxing and stalking crimes were confident that Islam would be sentenced to at least two years in prison for trying to sell and buy stolen credit cards from federal agents in the New York case, thanks to a law that imposes a mandatory two-year sentence for crimes involving what the government terms as “aggravated identity theft.”

Much to the government’s chagrin, however, the New York judge in that case sentenced Islam to just one day in jail. But by his own admission, even while Islam was cooperating with federal prosecutors in New York he was busy orchestrating his swatting attacks and administering the Exposed[dot]su Web site.

Islam was re-arrested in September 2013 for violating the terms of his parole, and for the swatting and doxing attacks to which he pleaded guilty. But the government didn’t detain Islam in connection with those crimes until July 2015. Since Islam has been in federal detention since then, and Judge Moss seemed eager to ensure that this would count as time served against Islam’s sentence, meaning that Islam will serve just 12 months of his 24-month sentence before being released.

There is absolutely no question that we need to have a serious, national conversation about excessive use of force by police officers, as well as the over-militarization of local police forces nationwide.

However, no one should be excused for perpetrating these potentially deadly swatting hoaxes, regardless of the rationale. Judge Moss, in explaining his brief deliberation on arriving at Islam’s two-year (attenuated) sentence, said he hoped to send a message to others who would endeavor to engage in swatting attacks. In my estimation, today’s sentence sent the wrong message, and missed that mark by a mile.

89 thoughts on “Serial Swatter, Stalker and Doxer Mir Islam Gets Just 1 Year in Jail

    1. sarah

      Agreed, but not surprising……all I have to do is look at the FBI’s latest “actions” and realize that the law doesn’t matter and consequences are no longer a concern. Indeed, the wrong message IS sent. Sent and understood all too well….

    2. parabarbarian

      Completely believable. Randolph Moss is an Obama appointee.

  1. Notme

    Unbelievable! As usual thanks for digging up “the rest of the story”.

  2. B_Brodie

    wow – and he wasn’t even a banker from 2008. has the court system gone completely nuts?

    someone could have been killed and next time might well be, this is just unbelievable.

  3. Blair "r000t" Strater

    I’ve been swatted more than my fair share of times, and thankfully, my local police are now smart enough to call ahead and only send one or two officers, never with the lights and sirens on.

    Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. In this new era of adrenaline-junkie police forces desperate to use their fancy new military hand-me-down toys, people have died, pets have been slaughtered, and children have been horribly disfigured for life. All because some script kiddie wanted to have a laugh with his Skype buddies.

    My swatter, Julius Kivimaki, will never spend a day in jail for his crimes, because he was harbored by the country of Finland. But make no mistake, swatting is attempted murder, plain and simple. Swatters need to face months per attempt, years per successful swat, life in prison for any injuries, and the death penalty if anybody, civilian OR officer, dies.

    And I do hear a bit about “swatting victims probably asked for it”, but have you ever thought about the law enforcement officers? They’re breaching the homes of people who have no reason to think law enforcement would want to be in their home at all. A few officers have been justifiably shot by homeowners because of swatting. Did those officers deserve it?

  4. Alex

    Got off light IMHO, obviously can be deadly in the US. Imagine if you were black, Brian!

  5. Blair "r000t" Strater

    Oh, and one more thing: Given that many of these individuals believe, to the point of bragging, that they are free from punishment because they live in other countries, they need to be extradited. If somebody in your country, be they 13 or 30, swats somebody in America, and you refuse to hand them over, it needs to be seen as an outright act of war. Economic sanctions and even military invasions need to happen until such time as the miscreant is produced. Don’t want to send him over? Don’t worry, we’ll come get him.

    1. Neal Rauhauser

      European countries won’t extradite to the U.S. when it’s kids of cybercrime – our prison system is ridiculous. Kivimaki is a menace and I agree that Finland is incapable of reigning him in, he’ll be back with some new misconduct before long, it’s just in his nature.

    2. IA Eng

      HA ! Easier said than done for any amount of extremism.

      IF Threats and invasions, displacing hundreds of people, killings, and country relations crumbling for years, is your way of ruling a chaotic country, then you’d be thrown out on your ear after a very very short time.

      That’s pretty close to being barbaric, and I think those times are past. That’s how some radicals think, its a short fused, knee-jerked plan that is obviously set for a major failure.

      All for one crook that might or might not get a sentence. Talking about sentences, since I couldn’t answer you in just one sentence – probably more than needed – I thought I’d let you see some logic to your comment.

    3. Bob Dole

      Looks like you have a fan that followed you here.

    4. Christiph

      Act of war, sanctions, secret snatch&extradite missions?

      Maybe you illustrated a few reasons why European countries might be reluctant to send any accused into such a lawless system?

  6. Gary "w0rm" Stone

    Blair your thoughts on what you think happened to you are completely and utterly fictitious. Excluding the fact that you are a doxed pussy. Knocc knocc.

  7. Sarah

    The headline seems very misleading. If he was re-arrested in September 2013 but not charged until July 2015, then he served 22 months that were not credited to any case. If that is added to the 24 months he was sentenced to, you get 46 months — the top of the guidelines range — despite his helping the government. That is unusually harsh as sentences go.

    1. Hampton DeJarnette

      With all respect, neither Mr. Krebs nor the Washington Post article (see Jay’s posting, below) says how long Mr. Islam was incarcerated within the interval September 2013 – July 2015.
      Any length of time that he may have been in jail within that interval was likely for parole violation but not for the swatting and doxing attacks.
      As Mr. Krebs states, “…the government didn’t detain [Mr.] Islam in connection with [the swatting and doxing attacks] until July 2015.”

      1. Sarah

        The government didn’t “officially” detain him until July 2015, but that just means they didn’t formally file a piece of paper asking that he be detained. He was already being detained because of the doxing and swatting while the government was preparing its case. The bottom line is that he will have served 46 months by the time he gets out, not 24 months, and not 12 months. An official sentence of “46 months” would have just meant that he actually would have served 68 months (46 plus 22). The government got exactly what it asked for–a serious sentence of almost 4 years–it just doesn’t look like that on paper.

  8. Christian

    To me, European, 2 years in prison seems like a very hefty and long punishment – if the prison would be a northern European one. From what i read US prisons are close to hell, so 2 weeks would be more appropriate?
    He didn’t kill anyone and the level of physical harm caused is also low.

    1. IA Eng

      With the amount of criminals in the world, one would think – hey, if I can only serve two weeks after doing a major crime, I am all in. They could get away with some huge crimes. The prosecutors and Feds would probably give up saying its simply not worth the effort.

      Look at all the failed attempts at breaking the law. many sit in there for years, decades and life. That does not seem to deter the determined.

      The more “hell” it is, the better the deterrent. Somehow, I think that many of these crooks don’t believe they will be caught, and when they are the prize in front of their eyes in unfathomable – to them.

    2. E.M.H.

      “He didn’t kill anyone and the level of physical harm caused is also low.”

      He set up a situation where police forces were ready to use lethal force, and the potential for killing someone was elevated. That is why his sentence was far from being too light. He essentially put people’s lives on the line.

      Let’s not forget he’s also a recidivist.

      Saying that 2 years in prison is too harsh is an exceptionally naive statement. The only reason his crimes didn’t result in death were the professionalism of the involved SWAT teams and the restraint of the victims, like Brian here, in dealing with the unexpected swattings. Get in a less well trained or a very tired team of police officials, or a sleepy, irritated, or otherwise slightly abnormally functioning victim, and a tragedy can result, all initiated by Mir himself.

      This was too light, not too harsh.

      1. fhfdssa

        Or if the victim is black. I’ll bet their odds of survival get a lot lower then, too, especially if they’re in the US.

    3. Matthew

      With the hyper alert status of many American police forces, he attempted murder. I realize that some European countries discount the attempt unless it succeeds, but I consider that very wrong. Then, I consider much wrong in the current state of Europe, so I guess I am merely consistent. Personally, I would like to see this individual in prison for years. The sentence is well deserved and might discourage other brain dead little cowards from such acts.

    4. timeless

      «Under French law, attempted murder charges can carry a life sentence.» [1][2]
      «Under Spanish law, attempted murder charges can carry the same penalty as actual murder, roughly 30 years (maximum penalty is 40 years).» [3]

      [1] http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/04/09/Two-French-teenagers-charged-with-attempted-murder-of-little-brother/7041397066326/
      [2] https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080416141025AAka57e
      [3] https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080407234910AA6xw9C

  9. Techno

    My workplace filtering is blocking this post as “hate and discrimination”, presumably because of words like “Islam” and “weapon”.

    1. IA Eng

      So surf this place at home, from a phone at lunch or other locations. Present this site to the proxy / firewall / IPS-IDS folks and let them know its a legit site, with IT and security in mind. They too may become followers.

  10. Jay

    Brian, you should be talking with your legislators, and if they are not on the relevant Congressional committees, then ask that they talk with the Reps and Sens who are. If new crime definitions need to be added, only Congress can do that. The other, parallel, route is at your state’s level. Same song, second verse.

  11. IA Eng

    The good news is, it resulted in a “win”. Now he has to sit and ponder for days, thinking, if he hadn’t pushed the limits, he wouldn’t be a convict and be displaced for a period of time.

    There might be some agreement, maybe some additional information that was gathered by the conversations between the convict and the Feds, so maybe something can be fixed over time. More than likely servers, routers and other devices will grow EoL before they are fixed and newer faster gear will be put in its place in hopes that some of it will be setup with security in mind.

    Cybercrimes fit into so many categories, that loopholes are easily created. The only way to make people do a minimum mandatory sentence for cybercrimes is for the government to get off their duff and make it so.

    The other countries who allow criminals to be imported into the USA by whatever means takes a lot of time and effort by the two nations. That time and effort should be a minimum basis on how much time the criminal sits in jail.

    1. JCitizen

      Maybe there is one piece of good that may come of this – if he is banned from using or studying electronic devices for two years, he will be seriously behind the curve when he gets out. Moore’s Law is still in effect, and it is one that can’t be ignored by any court or offender.

  12. Ron G

    Two words: Private lawsuit.

    Remember, O.J. walked too, but didn’t fare quite so well in the face of a subsequent civil suit.

    Brian, I hope you’ll take every last spare dime this schmuck earns for the next 1,000 years.

    Someday, somebody is actually going to get killed in one of these swatting incidents, and THEN maybe judges will wake up to the actual terrifying seriousness of these moronic stunts.

    P.S. Judge Moss is, quite obviously, an imbecil.

  13. Beau Tye

    From the article:
    There is absolutely no question that we need to have a serious, national conversation about excessive use of force by police officers, as well as the over-militarization of local police forces nationwide.

    THAT’s the issue. Police departments are social engineered and, as in business, need awareness training so they don’t get hooked the next time.

    Juveniles will always keep pressing buttons if the actions remain predictable. “Hey, look what happens when I do this. Ha-ha! Do it again!”.

  14. ben

    Dear People of the word…..
    Do you know the truth about….. Islam?
    Or do you think it’s about
    Bombing planes and killing innocent people…..?
    Forget about the lies…..
    I’ am here to tell you how it really is…..
    You deserve to know the truth
    About this beautiful way of life…..
    People of the world
    Islam is all about peace
    Terrorism it doesn’t teach
    Its all about love and family and charity
    And praying to one God
    This is Islam
    It’s something you should know…..
    I know it’s really helped me grow
    It does away with greed, filth, arrogance
    And teaches us morality
    A perfect way to live…..
    So don’t believe all you see and hear
    Too many people wear a title of a Muslim…..
    But they don’t practice Islam…..
    People of the world
    Islam is all about peace
    Terrorism it doesn’t teach
    Its all about love and family and charity
    And praying to one God
    This is Islam
    And it teaches us the creator’s made this life for us a test…..
    And if we follow truth and do good deeds, He’ll reward us in the Next…..
    If we remember God & teach each other the truth and patience in His way
    Together we can live…..in peace…..
    This is Islam
    Lyrics by Yusuf Islam
    Please Google Islamic research foundation and visit the FAQ section for answers to the questions you may have about Islam.
    I am sure that you will find that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, justice, kindness, charity, love and worshiping one God.

    1. JCitizen

      Not that it is for me to judge, but the Medina verses seem quite contradictory to much of what you just said. Which one abrogates the other in the Quran is the question I suppose.

      1. A.Zorro


        I sincerely hope those following Islam agree with you ben, but I’m afraid some have chosen to follow the later revelation from Medina rather than the former from Mecca.

  15. JJ

    I mean this in the nicest way, as a fan of your blog. Don’t be the cliche victim of a crime that thinks whatever penalty the villain received is too light. Have you been to jail? Prison? 3 years is plenty.

    Something could have happened, but didn’t — be grateful. And again, in the nicest way possible, I hope you can finally stop whining about this incident and rejoin the ranks of regular people to whom accidents happen. Get a bumper sticker that says it “happens sometimes.”

    1. II

      I mean this in the nicest way. That has to be one of the dumbest comments I’ve read in a while. How do the planned and intentionally malicious actions of one person, directly and specifically targeted against another person, qualify as an accident? smh…

      1. jj

        Thank you for reminding me why I don’t participate in online discussions. Please read again what I wrote and ask yourself if I am truly saying it was accidental.

        It is not my fault if you read what you would rather read, instead of what I wrote.

    2. BrianKrebs Post author

      First off, he’ll only serve another year in jail. Then 3 years probation. That’s a light sentence for what he admitted to doing. The fact that he showed absolutely no remorse, was a recidivist offender who committed most of his crimes while serving as an informant. Somehow this didn’t seem to weigh much for the judge.

      As a journalist, I’d be stupid not to cover a story like this; it’s not often you get to tell stories involving personal experiences. And this closure — such as it is — has been a long time coming.

      1. jj

        Thank you for reading it correctly. Yes, as a journalist, you did what you had to do. But you wouldn’t even be as famous as you are if this hadn’t happened to you. So in the buddhist paradigm, you are turning your stumbling blocks into stepping stones, which is what I exactly what mean when I say, “Get off the cross, Brian!”

    3. Bob dole

      Setting the bar high early for the stupidest thing I’ve read this week. It’s only Tuesday, but I’m thinking you’re going to win. You may even take the month of July.

    4. JJ

      (Sorry, my comment above says 3 years, from the headline, it is one year. So that is a _little_ lighter than I would have thought.)

      Again, take it all in the nicest way possible.

      1. JCitizen

        When I was a Criminal Justice student in college, we learned that 3 months was scientifically found to be the maximum punishment that simple incarceration could impose – any length after that was time that didn’t add to the motivation to avoid such punishment; by then, it was reasoned, the inmate has become used to confinement, and his situation a resignation to a fate as close to home as he is going to get. So by then, jail is just home sweet home to the average inmate.

        I’d be okay if all criminals were released after 3 months, if we had a robot to follow them around and prevent recidivism – other wise I wonder if there is truly value in keeping them locked away, and throw away the key – the price to society is rarely compared to the rate it costs to keep them incarcerated. They need to do a serious cost study on that – of course murders are a different situation – the victim’s family has the right to expect them to be gone forever, as far as I’m concerned.

    5. Joe Smiten

      It should happen to you… Here’s hoping your wise-ass is a smilin’ then!

    6. IA Eng

      In the nicest way…. It appears your visits here are not as a regular and you are yet to fathom the amount of detail, time and effort it takes for Brian to produce exclusive stories.

      Let alone the amount of risk that comes with these articles. Most of the people here appreciate the articles. Everyone – including you are entitled to opinion. Some make sense more than others.

      As for the whining, no one is, unless I have mistaken and your comment should be appraised as such. Is it a jealousy whine? No one paying attention to your time spent in lockup, even if it was for a short period of time? In any event, the sentence in my opinion has been that the sentence is way too light. These sort of prosecutions should be based on the amount of people-hours it takes to bring a person to a conviction.

      A light sentence for most of these convicts is simply a slap on the wrist. They sit and ponder, and try to formulate a plan on how they can do the next criminal act better and avoid prosecution.

      It’s easy for some one to sit on the outside and say that jail is hell. Well, if it was then that should be a deterrent for people to go there. They do the crime(s) bathe in their success until they are caught and convicted. It costs a lot of money to bring people to justice, and with that being said, it should cost the crook more.

  16. Marma Lade

    “the perpetrator of a swatting incident did not actually possess a weapon?”

    Judge Randolph Moss appears to have spent all of his time on the Hillary Clinton email server case. How are Islam’s action any different than a Mafia boss who arranges for a debtor to suffer broken bones? Not to mention that, from now on, police will react to swatting cases with more hardware, perhaps even APCs, after the ambush in Dallas. The only good news is that Islam will forever be known as a convicted felon.

  17. Jake

    Does the TTY system need a revamp that include verification on who is using it?
    From my previous job working retail I remember getting a TTY call every few months that attempted to scam us one way or another.

    1. timeless

      That’s pretty much impossible.

      1. See voter ID card issues. The people who need/use TTY service aren’t typically rich. They wouldn’t be able to easily get such cards, and using them would make things much more painful- for a group which is already suffering/disadvantaged.
      2. Many pay phones have TTY service.

      TTY service needs to be fast/not too inconvenient.

      Yes, unfortunately it’s abusable.

      The privacy laws for relay service are incredibly strong. It’s possible they could be adjusted, but it’s unlikely that politicians could write adjustments that are efficient/workable/successful.

      3. Recently (especially since pulse) there have been calls for ems dispatchers to accept SMS and perhaps even Twitter as channels for service calls.

      4. Many jurisdictions allow cellular phones without cellular service to make 911 calls. If TTY service was restricted without abandoning service, it would be clearly discriminatory…

      5. #4 means that a somewhat savvy attacker could deploy a cellular drone to make the call — one small enough that it could probably fly away before ems arrives. I don’t want an arm’s race in this area. I’d rather we fix the sentencing problems — swatting should be seen as attempted murder in the first degree (premeditated).

      One of the downsides of swatting (beyond the risk of officers shooting innocent civilians) is denial of service (other ems calls can’t be serviced by those responders or even the ems dispatchers) — there are/have been attacks against 911 service in the form of DDoS (lots of calls). — such attacks wouldn’t be stopped by requiring authentication

  18. Keith Smith

    Brian, great article as always. Just curious, anything on the Sony movie front or did your reporting on their Hack problems put it on the shelf? Ironic, if so.

    1. BrianKrebs Post author

      Haha, I don’t know, Keith. I spoke to the producers who bought the rights to the Times profile story, and tried to get out of them what they hoped to achieve with the film. They hadn’t even talked to the creative people yet, so I told them to call me when they had. I’ve not heard back so I assume they’ve lost interest.

  19. mike

    Was it carderprofit[dot]biz? I thought it was .cc

  20. Tim

    Brian, the challenge here is that you opted to not provide testimony – and thus lost the opportunity to have your perspective heard in a court of law.

    Thus your well-informed testimony was not heard, and the convicted got a lighter sentence…could your input have helped this person get a harsher sentence, given your expertise in these matters?

    We’ll never know. Opportunity missed, unfortunately.

    1. BrianKrebs Post author

      Journalists generally aren’t in the habit of testifying on behalf of the government, regardless of the case.

  21. Greg D.

    “There is absolutely no question that we need to have a serious, national conversation about excessive use of force by police officers, as well as the over-militarization of local police forces nationwide.”

    Way to go on supplying that political left turn in the article Brian. If anything police in the country are being weakened, not “overly-militarized” as you claim. Also, I am confused why you did not testify against this scumbag (?)

  22. roflem

    Federal prison is by far nicer than county jails. This guy deserves more but I am sure he will return.
    Opening a civil case is obsolete unless there are assets, which I doubt this psycho has any.
    Just wait Brian, he will return to prison.
    I was swatted by German police from a German gangster. It wasn´t pretty but clearly not as dangerous as in the US where police is more triger happy because of the NRA.

    1. Steve

      Seriously? because of the NRA, C’mon man, read some real news sources. Do some research, you cannot continue to get all your information from MSNBC. The NRA is a civil rights organization and a gun safety organization. Read their website. Or get someone to read it to you.

    2. Darron Wyke

      “because of the NRA”

      If I had a week I couldn’t list all of the reasons why you’re wrong.

      1. roflem

        Sorry, I also don´t have a week to list all the reasons why the gun laws in USA are causing so many deaths. Of course the NRA is just ONE of them 😉 And of course swatting is dangerous anywhere. I do not know of one case where it turned fatal, correct me if you like.

  23. Allan S

    Two thoughts on this:
    1) Could this be the start of a needed push back against CFAA abusiveness, ala Schwartz and Matthew Keys?
    (in which case I’d call Islam’s still too light, as the danger involved in swatting should be an aggravating factor)
    2) Could Islam be cooperating with someone in return for a lighter sentence?
    (I honestly don’t know the details of how such things are coordinated)

  24. Anon Coward

    What if the swatter had done all this in person? It’s breaking and entering, kidnapping (the cuffs) and assault with a deadly weapon, right? On top of that, the perp side-stepped any physical risk that the homeowner might be armed or have a taser. I figure that should double the sentence.

    As for diminishing returns of deterrence as the sentence grows, why not mix it up? After 90 days when the inmate thinks he’s figured out the prison system and isn’t going to get hurt, he should be shipped to CA to perform the agricultural work that “Americans don’t want to do.” Then ship him to a private prison in Canada where it’s bitter cold. Then find a spot in the desert with nothing but death for 200 miles and make him camp there, eating military MREs and sleeping in tents with electronic anklets to keep prisoners apart. Enjoy the great outdoors while the guards get a big recreation center with a pool table, basketball court, a big-screen TVs, air conditioning and ice-cold lemonade. Then move on to a municipal recycling center, sorting tin cans and every manner of smelly refuse for eight hours a day. Then have him staff a tech support call center. He can leave when his customers give him a 85% approval rate for four straight weeks. If he stops trying, he goes back to Canada. Then make him earn a few thousand dollars of restitution for his hometown Police Athletic League on the Amazon Mechanical Turk. Anything short of “cruel and unusual” that leads to that priceless “I’m never going to try that again” sentiment.

  25. Tony

    So if all these people target you when they finally get caught and hauled to court why don’t you seek out charges for what they did to you.

  26. Rob Douglas

    The sentence in this case is extremely disappointing. Brian, thank you for the work you do and the courage you exhibit regularly as you fend off the cybercriminals who seek to harm you. Be safe and keep up the good fight.

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