A UK judge has slapped a year-long prison sentence on a teenage computer nerd who targeted an online gambling site with a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack.
On Friday, Nottingham Crown Court Judge Michael Stokes sentenced 19-year-old Max Whitehouse to 12-months in prison for launching a disruptive online attack against the unnamed betting site and for boasting about the attack via social media.
However, Stokes suspended Whitehouse’s prison sentence based on Stokes’ belief that locking up the teen in the company of hardened criminals would be “highly damaging and retrograde.”
Whitehouse – who reportedly wept as his sentence was read – pled guilty to carrying out an unauthorized and reckless act with the intent to impair computer operations. The site claims to have suffered £18k in damages via its inability to transact with customers while the attack was underway.
The court heard that Whitehouse launched the attack when he was just 17 years old. In a move reflecting Whitehouse’s youth, the stealth-challenged teen boasted of his plans to attack the site in advance via his mother’s Twitter account. Not surprisingly, police didn’t break too much of a sweat tracking the attack back to its source.
In the course of arresting Whitehouse, police also uncovered several prohibited weapons – including tear gas canisters, eight knuckledusters and a stun gun disguised as an iPhone – that the teen had purchased online from China.
Whitehouse’s attorney Adrian Reynolds told the court that his client suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Reynolds called Whitehouse’s actions “an offence of staggering naivety” while arguing that Whitehouse was a “hoarder of weapons, rather than someone with any criminal intent.”
Judge Stokes said he was satisfied that Whitehouse “had no intention whatsoever of selling or distributing any of those items,” which were forfeited. But Stokes accused Whitehouse of attacking the site “to see if you could do it.”
Stokes didn’t spare the verbal lash, accusing Whitehouse of “living your life through a screen rather than outside” and suggested the teen needed “to get our more and live … take up rugby or something.”