April 25, 2017

A 20-year-old man from the United Kingdom was sentenced to two years in prison today after admitting to operating and selling access to “Titanium Stresser,” a simple-to-use service that let paying customers launch crippling online attacks against Web sites and individual Internet users.

Adam Mudd of Hertfordshire, U.K. admitted to three counts of computer misuse connected with his creating and operating the attack service, also known as a “stresser” or “booter” tool. Services like Titanium Stresser coordinate so-called “distributed denial-of-service” or DDoS attacks that hurl huge barrages of junk data at a site in a bid to make it crash or become otherwise unreachable to legitimate visitors.

Mudd's TitaniumStresser service.

Mudd’s TitaniumStresser service.

According to U.K. prosecutors, Mudd’s Titanium Stresser service was used by others in more than 1.7 million denial-of-service attacks against victims worldwide, with most countries in the world affected at some point. He originally built the booter service at the age of 15, earning more than $300,000 in ill-gotten gains from it. Also during his interviews, he admitted security breaches against his own college while he was there studying computer science.

Mudd pleaded guilty to three offences under the U.K. Computer Misuse Act and a further offense of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act in October 2016.

“Today, he was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment for his own DDoS attacks, nine months for running a titanium stressor service and 24 months for money laundering the proceeds made from the stressor service, all to run concurrently,” reads a press release issued by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), an anti-cybercrime unit that worked with the U.K.’s National Crime Agency to investigate Mudd.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Peters of the ERSOU’s Regional Crime Unit recalled that at sentencing the judge said the defendant likely would have received six years if he’d been tried as an adult and if he had no medical issues. Mudd had been slated to be sentenced last week, but that hearing was delayed until today after the court heard medical testimony on Mudd’s apparent struggles with autism.

The Mudd case is the latest in a string of law enforcement actions in the U.K., U.S. and elsewhere targeting booter service operators and their customers. In December 2016, federal investigators in the United States and Europe arrested nearly three-dozen people suspected of patronizing booter services. That crackdown was part of an effort by authorities to weaken demand for booter and stresser services and to impress upon customers that hiring someone to launch cyberattacks on your behalf can land you in jail.

In October 2016, the U.S. Justice Department charged two 19-year-old men alleged to have run booter services tied to the “Lizard Squad” hacking group. That same month the sprawling discussion forum Hackforums — once the most bustling marketplace on the Internet where people could compare and purchase booter and stresser service subscriptions — announced that it was permanently banning the sale and advertising of booters

Last month, authorities in Israel said they were preparing a case against two 18-year-old Israeli men who investigators there say operated the wildly popular “vDOS” booter service. The proprietors of vDOS were in business for four years prior to being exposed by KrebsOnSecurity. During just two of those four years in operation vDOS made more than $600,000 helping paying customer coordinate hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of DDoS attacks.

The detail about Mudd having attacked the very same school he was attending as a computer science student seemed both interesting and familiar. Then I remembered: This same dynamic was at work with a young man approximately Mudd’s age who lives in New Jersey and recently was implicated by many of his close associates and a great deal of circumstantial evidence as a co-author of the Mirai botnet computer code.

Mirai is a network worm that enslaves poorly secured “Internet of Things” devices like security cameras and digital video recorders for use in extremely powerful DDoS attacks capable of knocking almost any target offline.

After Mirai took my site offline for several days last year, I spent many hours trying to figure out who was responsible for writing and unleashing the malware. All signs pointed to a computer science student at Rutgers University who used a large Mirai botnet to attack the university repeatedly — all the while using his hacker alter ego to taunt the university in online interviews.

The authorities in the U.K. say they are hoping to make an example of Mudd as part of a broader education effort to divert talented, smart kids away from malicious hacking and toward more productive endeavors.

“Adam Mudd’s case is a regrettable one, because this young man clearly has a lot of skill, but he has been utilising that talent for personal gain at the expense of others,” the ERSOU press release observes. “We want to make clear it is not our wish to unnecessarily criminalise young people, but want to harness those skills before they accelerate into crime. It is important that this case sends out a clear message to others who may be tempted by committing cybercrime or who are already engaging in cyber scams from the comfort of their own bedrooms, to consider what they are doing and it is for parents to know and understand what your children are doing online.”

51 thoughts on “UK Man Gets Two Years in Jail for Running ‘Titanium Stresser’ Attack-for-Hire Service

  1. IRS iTunes Card

    I wonder if this Adam Mudd has Autism spectrum disorder? A recent report about why young hackers in the U.K get involved in these types of activities , finds that they have this disorder. They don’t do it for the money it’s more about the notoriety among their peers. It’s usually more about narcissism, then trying to make money off these DDos Attacks.

    Example of a person would be “Lauri Love” who was reported to have Autism spectrum disorder and resides in the U.K.

    1. Scott

      “Mudd had been slated to be sentenced last week, but that hearing was delayed until today after the court heard medical testimony on Mudd’s apparent struggles with autism.”

      Gonna guess that’s a yes. Lots of kids in general struggle with wanting to impress their peers, so I’m glad it didn’t fully let him off the hook. 2 years is good and can hopefully send a message.

      1. IRS iTunes Card

        He (Mudd) should not be in prison but rather a mental hospital long term

        Maybe Dr Mudd should work on this script kiddie !

      2. IRS iTunes Card

        From Techworm:

        Ben Cooper the defendant for Mudd pleaded for a lesser sentence claiming that Adam had been “sucked into” the cyber world of online gaming and was “lost in an alternate reality” after withdrawing from school because of bullying. His statement to the court read “This was an unhappy period for Mr Mudd, during which he suffered greatly. This is someone seeking friendship and status within the gaming community.”

        1. lols

          Didn’t you know that autism causes people to commit computer crimes? In fact, most of the autistic kids out there who get bullied go on to create malicious attack tools and make over 300 thousand dollars in profit. It’s practically out of their control. These innocent angels can’t be held responsible for their actions.

            1. Darron Wyke

              He didn’t include it, but there was a sarcasm tag embedded in there.

            2. DF


              I think your need to look at your sarcasm detector. It might be malfunctioning.

  2. petepall

    Another “miscreant” bites the dust. May many more follow in his footsteps!

    1. TreFunny

      its starting to feel like the police are waiting until these young men turn 18/19 before capturing them… i bet they could have arrested them at age 16 but that wouldn’t make headlines and get them a bigger budget.

      1. The Phisher King

        The authorities are waiting so they can arrest, charge and try these people as adults.
        It is a cynical ploy to grab headlines for being seen to be tough on cyber crime, without actually doing anything to fix the problem.
        If there were any real intent to help eliminate the problem, the authorities would step in far earlier when they are still children and provide the support and guidance they need to steer them back on to a track where they can be useful and productive.
        Turning them into convicted criminals and by so doing, making certain they can never hold a regular job, is completely self-defeating as all they will do after that is continue to commit crime in order to make a living.

  3. Curious

    The sentence is far too low. Actual jail time will be a year and that’s not a deterrent at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if his autism was only diagnosed after he got busted by the police and the courts still take it in to consideration and buy it hook, line and sinker.

    1. Max

      Nearly 95,000 people aged 10-17 were arrested for offences in the UK in 2015. An estimated 1 in 100 people have some kind of ASD. That suggests 950 people aged 10-17 with ASD will be arrested each year – assuming that the proportion of arrest is the same for people regardless of whether they have ASD.

      As a developmental spectrum disorder, diagnosis is difficult and a significant number of people remain undiagnosed into adulthood. That is unless they have kids that themselves are diagnosed – or they are arrested and questions are asked. Many of those 950 people with ASD will not have been diagnosed by age 17.

      However, people with ASD are more likely than the population to suffer from severe mental health problems, divorce and relationship problems, and difficulties holding down regular employment throughout their lives. As kids, ASD leads to an increased chance of suspension from school, social isolation and associated problems.

      The UK NCA reported this year that anecdotally, a high proportion of teens arrested for cybercrime have ASD, and were not totally aware of the criminality of their actions, and would have simply stopped if authority had intervened early in the process of going from gaming – modding – cheats and exploits – being DDoSed – DDoSing others – and then darker waters through relationship building in hacking and gaming community forums.

      Society recognises that children and young adults make bad decisions from time to time and youth sentencing and youth justice tries to take this into account. The YJS is also aware that there are developmental conditions, mental health issues and other mitigating factors that might be involved in a youngster committing crime and being arrested.

      Far from being an easy lie to defend oneself against prosecution, ASD behaviours would be identifiable through witness interview and testimony of family, friends and even observation. I don’t imagine the courts are simplistic in their understanding or handling of claims of ASD by legal defence, and prosecutors are well equipped to examine these claims – even if the diagnostic tools and processes are not exact.

      ASD won’t necessarily prevent someone from creating and running a successful business, but it may limit the person’s ability to recognise and understand that they business hurts other people and is not acceptable by society.

      1. anonamoose

        TheMuddFamily knew exactly what he was doing. He was in it to make money and that was the story of his “service”.

  4. The Security Guy

    “Even in the unlikely cause of something going wrong we have dedicated team that work 7×24 to help you do your daily deeds”

    Bad grammar aside, I’m impressed with him offering 7×24 support. That’s better that we get with some legitimate vendors.

  5. ted leaf

    Well as all his sentences run concurrently he will only do about 16 months time in young offenders holiday camp,no seizure of asserts etc etc,if this was meant to send a signal to others then it’s a total failure..
    He is another one to claim he is autistic,amazing the number of white middle class gits claim autism when they get caught,but I bet he is no more autistic than the rest of the population.
    I hope the yanks insist on having love extradited and hang him out to dry for 16+ years,he is another one,mummy had a few “connections” and has managed to keep her precious little lovely out of the hands of the us authorities so far,but fingers crossed they ignore all 114 mp’s and other schmucks who are helping to keep the worthless piece of crap safe so far..

  6. VW

    So the UK is sending the message to kids, that if you claim autism, you will get a reduced sentence. What happened with everyone should be judged equally under the law?

    I find it shocking they claim he was a kid. 15 years old is a young man. You are not a kid anymore. Not at least to claim you didn’t know it was wrong. They all know it’s wrong, hence they try to cover their tracks. And how in the world can they claim autism had anything to do with this?

    Did they forget the $300K part? He was running it for profit !!! Ah, wait, just like most criminals do. They are trying to play this off, as an unfortunate victim kid that was not aware it was wrong. Money laundering 24 months, running the criminal enterprise online, 9 months…How pathetic.

    I agree with a reduced sentence because he was a minor. A mistake maybe? Yes. But claiming he was a kid with autism to have the sentence reduced when he was a running a for-profit criminal enterprise and completely aware of the implications sends a very nasty message to kids today. It sends the message that you can get away with it because you are a minor.

    I’m also surprised how many do get away with it. Like the New Jersey one.

    1. Mark

      He helped out Lizard Squad by giving them his code. The same gang that grounded an airplane with a bomb threat and ruined christmas for millions. They openly bragged that they will get away with it because they are minors. They weren’t entirely wrong, either.

      1. anonamoose

        He didn’t give anyone anything. The source from titty had been public for months, if not years, by the time they (LS) decided to skid it, and then sell it as something new to thousands based off of their recent media success.

  7. carder

    I was did prison sentence 4 months.
    and i was procecuted more then 10000$
    At least. It was bmo. I was carder

  8. vb

    “this young man clearly has a lot of skill”,.. he used some of that skill for money laundering. Aside from the computer misuse, this is a pretty light sentence for money laundering.

    I don’t think the “message” this is sending out to others is very “clear” at all.

    1. trump

      Its not skill. Loundring is basic skills. Cryptocurrency and etc.

  9. JCitizen

    Well there is one “cracker” who won’t be “muddying” up the inter-webs for a while! Heh! Heh! 🙂

  10. Red Raleigh

    I suppose an autism defense is better than a twinkie defense. Just because it’s easier to “rob” a website sitting in your pajamas in your mom’s basement than it is to physically rob a store doesn’t mean the response should be a light sentence and languid approbation.

    The message it really sends: We’ll hear about Mr. Mudd again, no doubt.

  11. Harry Greer

    “We’ll hear about Mr. Mudd again, no doubt.”

    If you think he got up to shenanigans, wait until you see what his descendant Harcourt Fenton gets up to in about 200 years’ time.

    1. John Clark

      I was wondering if anyone would make reference to his famous ST namesake.

  12. Captain Tugwash

    Best thing they could do is hire him.

    1. TErickson

      Yeah great, jut the kind of ethics I want work for me. PASS! Plenty of talent out there w/o the questionable morals.

  13. Erik

    Is it just me, or is the most depressing thing about posts like this the relatively paltry amounts of money involved? $300,000 for five years of work in the IT industry is nothing to write home about. It’s above-average for a teenager, but even so as a contractor working over the Internet people usually don’t care about much other than results.

    1. BrianKrebs Post author

      I think a lot of these booter service guys see dollar signs when they do the math on how much it will cost them to rent all the servers and manage the customer support. And it’s true they can make a lot of money with not a lot of effort in a very short period. But they nearly all flame out pretty quickly because it becomes all about making money.

  14. Drone

    The Wall Street Crooks walked away free & clear with Trillions of our hard-earned money. So why should this little tadpole see even one day in court?

    1. Rico

      Hey, yeah man. If you can’t jail all the criminals you shouldn’t jail any of em. That’s what I tried to tell the officer when he stopped me for doing 80 in a 55 zone. He gave me a ticket anyways. No justice, I’m telling ya.

  15. None

    Clearly struggles with Autism to the extent that he built and successfully ran a criminal enterprise and made a significant amount of money off of it.
    ASD is a crock of BS.

  16. Reboot

    Some posters on this blog obviously get high off their own farts.

    Play the high and mighty moral card all you like but this kid (that’s what he is a child) should not be in prison. Young non violent offenders like him should be at school learning more skills to prepare him for future employment. Sending him to prison does nothing good for society.

    And to suggest that he made up his autism to get a lighter sentence is seriously a stupid lowlife comment. If you had any brains you would realize that hackers have very high rates of autism and very high rates of mental illness compared to the rest of the population. Do some research before you accuse someone of making up a disability.

    1. None

      I ~am~ a hacker on the spectrum, and not self-diagnosed either.
      I would never for one second use autism to justify criminality. The very implication that my syndrome exposes me to a criminal behaviour mindset is nothing short of intellectually dishonest.

    2. vb

      The very first sentence of Brian’s post is “A 20-year-old man…”

      How can you claim that he is a child?

  17. Mahhn

    Step one, identify yourself as a teenage white male with autism. Step two, commit crimes with a computer.
    Step three, blame prosecutors for picking on mentally challenged children.
    Step four, invincibility achieved, do what ever you want.
    Warning; as the formula has becomes popular, it may become less effective. Use at own risk.

  18. Jimmy Kimmel

    If money wasn’t so difficult to earn legally, there wouldn’t be nearly as much black hat activity.

    1. FreeTim

      Difficult to earn legally? Tell me more of what you mean? I feel like there may be a plethora of ways to creatively sell a product or service or obtain gainful employment without VICTIMIZING other innocent computer users and IP device-owners? Been working since I was 15 myself (low wages pumping gas back then) and a very hard worker ever since. Any gains I made in self-education and self-improvement have been my own via very hard work and study over time, bumping myself up incrementally and varying my study interests depending on where I thought the market might next be going. Nothing handed to me except my Dad’s strong sense of work ethic. It takes a while to earn a living wage starting out. I think it’s “hard” and requires “work” but it’s not “difficult” and definitely not “impossible.” In summary, work is hard so that justifies black hat activities? Tell me more? — btw; Victims aren’t mentioned nearly enough in threads like this one. Thanks

  19. Santa Claus

    Most hackers have several of the Asperger Syndrome indicators (ability to focus on something for long periods of time, technical skills, lack of social awareness, etc.) Asperger used to have it’s own category but was redefined as on the autism spectrum in the DSM version V. So now all hackers have Autism but it should be read as having Asperger Syndrome. Look at the many Weev videos for an example – he clearly had many of the markers. I’m assuming this person did too.

    BTW – this lack of social awareness prevents them from getting a regular job or helping society in general by starting a business.

    1. Santa Claus

      Now you could argue about the source(s) of this Autism (read Asperger) – vaccines, bad parenting, pollution, you name your cause, etc. Clearly something is not working to help society and we need to fix it. The question is what’s not working?

  20. Mazhar

    It looks like a pre-palnned, But need to suggest how companies can get red of such resources.

  21. mazda

    10$ for 10people 2 must stay without any money.
    to get money u got to fight its like stupid hunger games

  22. TM

    I’m getting the impression that commenters here who complain that 2 years isn’t enough punishment are Americans who are used to a “justice” system where people can get a life sentence for shoplifting. Folks, this may be disappointing to hear, but the rest of the world doesn’t share your Old Testament views and your appetite for cruelty and revenge.

Comments are closed.