Repeat Offender? Mirai Botnet Operator Ordered to Pay $8.6 Million for Launching Attacks on His University

Rafia Shaikh
paras jha mirai botnet

Last December, we reported that three men had pleaded guilty to building and running the Mirai botnet that was used to take down large swaths of the internet in 2016. One of them, Paras Jha, had pleaded guilty to six charges related to creating and operating Mirai.

Jha has now received a new sentence for launching DDoS attacks on Rutgers University prior to the infamous Mirai assault.

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In November 2014, two years before the Mirai attacks in 2016, Jha launched multiple successful attacks against his university's central authentication server by compromising several devices and using them in his botnet. Among other things, the central server was used to run a portal that was used by tens of thousands of students and faculty members. These attacks were launched for personal gains as local media reports that on one occasion Jha planned to delay an exam.

Reports suggest that these attacks caused his university losses estimated between $3.5 and $9.5 million.

"At times, Jha succeeded in taking the portal offline for multiple consecutive periods, causing damage to Rutgers University, its faculty, and its students," the US Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey said in a press release.

Between November 2014 and September 2016, Jha executed a series of “distributed denial of service” (DDOS) attacks on the networks of Rutgers University; these occur when multiple computers acting in unison flood the Internet connection of a targeted computer or computers. Jha’s attacks effectively shut down Rutgers University’s central authentication server, which maintained, among other things, the gateway portal through which staff, faculty, and students delivered assignments and assessments.

Jha has to pay $8.6 million in fines and will serve six months of home incarceration for launching these cyberattacks on the Rutgers University computer network between November 2014 and September 2016. This is way more than what Jha had to pay for Mirai DDoS attacks.

Under the charges for writing and operating Mirai botnet, Jha was previously sentenced to a five-year period of probation, 2,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $127,000.

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