Utah man pleads guilty to causing 2013 gaming service outages

Tech News

A Utah man has pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges, after admitting to knocking several gaming services offline five years ago.

Austin Thompson, 23, launched several denial-of-service attacks against EA’s Origin, Sony Playstation and Valve’s Steam gaming services during the December holiday season in 2013.

At the time, those denial-of-service attacks made it near-impossible for some gamers to play — many of which had bought new consoles or games in the run-up to Christmas, including League of Legends and Dota 2, because they required access to the network.

Specifics of Thompson’s plea deal were not publicly available at the time of writing, but prosecutors said Thompson — aged 18 at the time of the attacks — flooded the gaming giants’ networks “with enough internet traffic to take them offline.”

Thompson would take to his Twitter account, @DerpTrolling, to announce his targets ahead of time, and posted screenshots of downed services in the aftermath of his attacks. Thompson’s attacks caused upwards of $95,000 in damages, prosecutors said.

“The attacks took down game servers and related computers around the world, often for hours at a time,” said Adam Braverman, district attorney for Southern California, in a statement.

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

Thompson faces up to ten years in prison, is set to be scheduled to be sentenced in March.

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