UK teen hacker-for-hire who launched biggest DDOS attack spared jail

A British teenager who worked as a hacker-for-hire has been spared jail after launching crippling denial-of-service attacks against anti-spam outfit Spamhaus.

The assault in early 2013, at one point reached 300Gbps, straining the London Internet Exchange (LINX) and other interconnects.

Seth Nolan-Mcdonagh, of Stockwell, south-west London, pleaded guilty in December to blasting Spamhaus off the internet and also admitted to charges of money laundering and the possession of 924 indecent images of children.

The 18-year-old who used the online nickname Narko, also pocketed £70,000 ($108,580) for knocking services offline, and was caught with 1,000 credit card numbers.

The Southwark Crown Court on Friday, sentenced Nolan-Mcdonagh to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. He was spared a stint behind bars after the court was told, the teen suffered from a mental illness at the time of the web assaults, had dropped out of school and shunned his family, but had later showed "complete and genuine remorse."

"I said at the outset that these crimes were and are serious and indeed that is so," said judge Jeffrey Pegden in summing up the case.

"Your persistent distributed denial-of-service attack was so sophisticated and unprecedented in scope they had a worldwide effect. As The Times newspaper said at the time, they almost broke the internet. Many of those were attacked for financial gain, and plain it is to me that you received very significant payments for those attacks."

'Seth Nolan-Mcdonagh you fall to be sentenced for a serious crime committed by you between the beginning of 2011 and April 2013 when you were aged between 13 and 16 years.

'You are now 18 and a half years of age and you pleaded guilty to these offences in December last year and January this year just before your eighteenth birthday and therefore you fall to be sentenced as a youth.

'I emphasise at the very outset two matters in particular in respect of your culpability.

'Firstly your young age when you committed these offences and secondly that at the time you were suffering, as everybody agrees, form a very significant mental illness.'

The judge commented that the young hacker had also made  'remarkable' progress since entering rehab.

'Those features and others to which I will refer to to make your case, in my judgement, exceptional,' added Judge Pegden.

'I said at the outset that these crimes were and are serious and indeed that is so.

'Your persistent distributed denial-of-service attacking was so sophisticated and unprecedented in scope they had a worldwide effect.

'You were in effect a hired DDOS attacker and in effect many billions of domain users and I conclude that you had an instrumental and leading role in the technicalities of those attacks.

'You caused hundreds of thousands of pounds if loss to the various entities as they sought to mitigate the distributed denials-of-service.

'But it is right to say that you weren't alone.