Briton sentenced for huge cyber attack on Liberian telco

Operating out of Cyprus, this hacker-for-hire knocked the entire country's internet offline - thought to be world first

Graphic of a cyber criminal or hacker

A British cyber criminal hired by a Liberian telco has been jailed for 32 months in the UK for unleashing targeted DDoS attacks against another rival telco in 2016.

Being paid a monthly retainer by Cellcom, Daniel Kaye used a Mirai botnet which harnessed unsecured webcams to inundate Lonestar, the rival telco, with unsustainable levels of traffic which at its peak, caused the entire country's internet to go down.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Legal or not, it was definitely effective. Lonestar claimed its inability to provide service to its customers resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars as customers left the network. The telco also spent a further $600,000 in remedial action to prevent further attacks.

Kaye also hacked Deutsche Telekom's infrastructure to transmit some of the traffic to Lodestar.

After his spell in Cyprus where hs was based during his freelance Liberian attacks, Kaye returned to the UK in February 2017 and was arrested carrying $10,000 on his person, a sum which was part of the payments he received from Cellcom.

The National Crime Agency by this time had already linked him to the unsuccessful attack on three British banks - Lloyds, Barclays and Halifax - in January 2017 but Kaye claims he loaned out the botnet on the dark web during this time. These charges were later formally dropped.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Germany wanted Kaye extradited to face punishment there for hacking and misusing its infrastructure but instead, he faced the stronger charges for his crimes in Africa.

Kaye was tried and sentenced in the UK because British law (Computer Misuse Act 1990) allows a cyber criminal to prosecuted for an offence anywhere in the world.

Kaye is believed to be the first cyber criminal to bring down an entire nation's internet and as a result, "a substantial number of Lonestar's customers switched to competitors", said Babatunde Osho, Lonestar's former chief executive in written submissions to the court.

"In the years preceding the DDoS attacks, Lonestar's annual revenue exceeded $80m (62.4m). Since the attacks, revenue has decreased by tens of millions and its current liabilities have increased by tens of millions."

"Daniel Kaye was operating as a highly skilled and capable hacker-for-hire," said Mike Hulett, head of operations at the National Cyber Crime Unit. "His activities inflicted substantial damage on numerous businesses in countries around the world, demonstrating the borderless nature of cyber crime.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Working in collaboration with international law enforcement partners played a key role in bringing Daniel Kaye to justice."

"The fact that he was caught and brought to justice shows some of the value of continued cooperation with our European counterparts in tackling cybercrime on a cross-border basis," said Paul McKay, senior analyst at Forrester. It is a rare example of a successful prosecution of a cybercriminal in an area where criminal attribution and bringing individuals to court to face prosecution is notoriously difficult."

Kaye was unsuccessful in the UK, but the botnet was so effective in Africa because Liberia's internet at the time was only provided only by a few telcos, relying on limited Atlantic cable which isn't as secure as modern European internet as traffic can reach users through more routes.

According to investigators, Liberia's internet was repeatedly downed between November 3 and November 4 2016 disrupting not just Lonestar but organisations and ordinary users up and down the state.

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now
Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/355013/10-quick-tips-to-identifying-phishing-emails
Security

10 quick tips to identifying phishing emails

16 Mar 2020
Visit/business-strategy/mergers-and-acquisitions/354941/panda-security-to-be-acquired-by-watchguard
mergers and acquisitions

Panda Security to be acquired by WatchGuard

9 Mar 2020
Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355118/hpe-warns-of-critical-bug-that-destroys-ssds-after-40000-hours
Server & storage

HPE warns of 'critical' bug that destroys SSDs after 40,000 hours

26 Mar 2020
Visit/software/355113/companies-offering-free-software-to-fight-covid-19
Software

These are the companies offering free software during the coronavirus crisis

25 Mar 2020
Visit/software/video-conferencing/355138/zoom-beaming-ios-user-data-to-facebook-for-targeted-ads
video conferencing

Zoom beams iOS user data to Facebook for targeted ads

27 Mar 2020
Visit/cloud/355098/ibm-dedicates-supercomputing-power-to-coronavirus-researchers
high-performance computing (HPC)

IBM dedicates supercomputing power to coronavirus research

24 Mar 2020