US authorities charge three men with developing and running the dreaded Mirai botnet that was involved in several massive DDoS attacks.
According to documents released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the three men are Paras Jha, Josiah White, and Dalton Norman.
According to the plea agreements, White developed the Telnet scanner component used by Mirai, Jha created the botnet’s core infrastructure and the malware’s remote control features, while Norman developed new exploits.
Jha, who goes online with the moniker “Anna-senpai” leaked the source code for the Mirai malware on a criminal forum, allowing other threat actors to use it and making hard the attribution of the attacks.
Jha also pleaded guilty to carrying out multiple DDoS attacks against his alma mater Rutgers University between November 2014 and September 2016, before creating the Mirai botnet.
The Mirai bot was first spotted by the malware researchers MalwareMustDie in August 2016, the malicious code was developed to target IoT devices.
The IoT malware runs a brute force password attack via telnet using a list of default credentials to gain access to the target device.
Once the Mirai component gains access to the target IoT device, it connects out to download the full virus and runs it. Then it starts sending out SYN packets at a high rate of speed, looking for other potential victims.
The Mirai botnet peaked a size of over 300,000 infected devices, mainly composed of DVRs, security cameras, and routers.
The three men advertised the botnet on hacking forums, as a DDoS-for-hire service, but only Jha also used it to blackmail a hosting company.
According to court documents, the three men used the Mirai botnet to make money through “click fraud” activity. The botnet was used to emulate the behavior of real users clicking on an advertisement for the purpose of artificially generating profits for operators.
The three also generated some $180,000 from the scheme in bitcoin.
The Mirai botnet was also used against the website of the popular investigator Brian Krebs that was able to identify Jha and White as the operators of the botnet.
The three face possible prison terms and monetary fines.
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(Security Affairs – Mirai botnet, DDoS)