A 16-year-old Massachusetts boy admitted on Tuesday that he hacked into numerous corporate computer systems, allowing him to seize control of thousands of machines to launch cyberattacks and place bogus phone calls to emergency responders.
The teen, who used the alias “Dschocker” in internet chat sessions and online forums, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to computer intrusion, interstate threats and wire fraud, prosecutors said.
Between 2005 and January 2008, the boy compromised thousands of machines to form a botnet, which enabled him to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks on victim computers, according to court documents.
He also placed fake emergency phone calls, in some cases prompting responses from SWAT teams, prosecutors said. In addition, he made phony bomb threats to several schools. In one case, he claimed an armed gunman was inside. The boy used a technique known as caller ID spoofing, in which he makes the calls appear as if they are coming from another number, according to court records.
Documents show the boy placed calls from Worcester, Mass. to police departments in Seattle and Roswell, Ga., falsely reporting an ongoing violent crime.
“His ‘swatting’ activities created a serious risk of physical harm toinnocent victims, and the multiple bomb threats caused extensivedisruptions to important public services,” according to a U.S.Department of Justice news release.
Using the stolen credit card numbers to which he had access through his hacks, the teen also purchased items such as a Sony PlayStation 3, prosecutors said.
His corporate victims included at least three internet service providers, documents show. Between May 2007 and 2008, he obtained unauthorized access to systems run by Charter Communications, Road Runner and Comcast.
The boy accepted an 11-month prison sentence, to be served in a juvenile detention center. Had he been tried as an adult, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.