A British hacker has been jailed for almost three years after he inadvertently shut down Liberia’s internet.
Daniel Kaye, 30, from Egham in Surrey, was living in Cyprus when he was hired by an employee at Liberian telecoms firm Cellcom for $10,000 a month to carry out cyber attacks on its rival, Lonestar, according to the UK’s National Crime Agency.
There was no suggestion that Cellcom was aware of the arrangement.
Kaye used a network of hacked security cameras to overwhelm Lonestar’s network with data requests, crashing its systems. One attack was so heavy it temporarily disabled internet access across Liberia, knocking out the country’s connection a number of times between November 3 and 4.
The attacks had a “direct and significant” impact on Lonestar’s ability to provide services, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of US dollars of revenue as customers quit the network, the NCA said.
Remedial action taken to defend itself against Kaye cost Lonestar roughly $600,000.
NCA officers arrested Kaye when he came back to the UK in February 2017, seizing his passport, laptop, mobile phone and $10,000 in cash.
He was then extradited to Germany on a European Arrest Warrant, where he received a suspended sentence after admitting responsibility for attacks on Deutsche Telekom that affected one million customers in November 2016.
On Friday, Kaye was sentenced to 32 months in prison at Blackfriars Crown Court, after pleading guilty to creating and possessing criminal property.
Kaye’s network of hacked cameras, known as the Mirai #14 botnet, was also linked to cyber attacks in January 2017 against three British banks, Lloyds, Barclays and Halifax. But those allegations were dropped at the court on Friday after Kaye successfully argued that he had lent control of the network to someone else.
Mike Hulett, head of operations at the NCA’s cyber crime unit, called Kaye “a highly skilled and capable hacker-for-hire”. He said: “Kaye’s activities inflicted substantial damage on numerous businesses in countries around the world, demonstrating the borderless nature of cyber crime.”
Russell Tyner, from the CPS, said: “Kaye was a talented and sophisticated cyber criminal who created one of the world’s largest networks of compromised computers which he then made available to other cyber criminals with no consideration as to the damage it would cause.
“The CPS and the NCA together with the authorities in Germany and Cyprus worked closely together in order to bring him to justice.”
Orange Liberia, which acquired Cellcom in April 2016, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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