Former Rutgers Student Pleads Guilty to Creating Mirai Botnet

A former Rutgers university student is among three men who pleaded guilty to creating the dreaded “Mirai” botnet that crashed large swarms of the internet in 2016.

Entering their guilty pleas, Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman admitted to one count of conspiracy as federal prosecutors in Alaska and New Jersey confirmed on Wednesday that the trio created a collection of hundreds of thousands of IoT devices such as webcams, routers and other devices to infect them with malware and launch crippling DDoS attacks.

The Mirai botnet took down services such as Twitter and Netflix in October 2016 using ‘denial of service’ attacks but prosecutors do not believe the trio were responsible for the attack, as Jha had already posted Mirai’s source code on online criminal forums.

The botnet was also used to target DNS service Dyn in October 2016, an attack that took out Reddit alongside Twitter and other major websites in the same month.

A former Rutgers University computer science student, Jha also pleaded Wednesday in a New Jersey federal court to a computer fraud charge for allegedly triggering a series of attacks from 2014 through 2016 that paralyzed teh university’s networks, typically during high-stress times such as mid-term and final exams.

Arguing for his client, Jha’s attorney called the culprit “a brilliant young man whose intellect far exceeded his emotional maturity” and that he is “extremely remorseful and accepts responsibility for his actions.” 

First originating in Anchorage, Alaska, the investigation began after internet-connected devices were found to be infected with Mirai malware.

 Image credit: Flickr.