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Young Computer Geek Sold Software On Dark Web That Helped In The Crashing Of 224,000 Websites

Grant Manser (20) was just only 16 years old when he designed programs and sold them on the dark web, which helped cyber criminals to crash 224,000 websites all around the world. Court heard that the young teen designed a ”stresser” software, which worked by bombarding websites, servers and email addresses with so much information that they crashed. Manser did this all from his bedroom in Midland and sold the programs for prices ranging between £4.99 and £20 on the dark web. The victims of the attacks include companies, schools, colleges as well as government departments.

Manser pleaded guilty to six charges under the Computer Misuse Act and four under the Serious Crime Act. Judge Nicholas Cole sentenced the young teen to two years in youth detention and suspended him for 18 months with the requirement to perform 100 hours unpaid work and also pay £800 costs. He was spared from jail after Judge Cole accepted the fact that Manser only did the crimes for financial gain and was “young and naive”. Birmingham Crown Court also heard that the now 20-year-old’s scheme was operated in a four-year period between January 2012 and November 2014.

Manser was arrested in November 2014 at his family home by the Regional Cyber Crime Unit. When the law enforcement officers seized the teen’s computer equipment they found four systems: Dejabooter, Vexstresser, netspoof and Refinedstresser, these are known in the computer world as DDoS (denial of service) software.

According to Raj Punia from prosecution, around 4,000 users had bought DDoS packages. The hackers then carried out 603,499 attacks on 224,548 targets.Punia stated that the teen accepted payment by PayPal and had a turnover of £50,000 during the period he was operating.When arrested, Manser’s ”business” was doing so well he had started to advertise for staff.

When asked during police interviews, the teen said he had got the idea after working for someone in the United States and seeing how much money he made from the scheme.

Jamie Baxter, from defense, said his client only designed and sold the systems for the sole purpose to make money:

“He is not a hacker, the system doesn’t take or hack any information from the websites being attacked. He was only 16 when he started to do this and it was his immaturity and naivety which led him to commit these offenses.”

Baxter also added that Manser had built ”safeguards” into the programs to ensure that organizations on a so-called “blacklist” were not attacked. These included banks, healthcare organizations, the police, and the FBI.

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