Teen hacker who made fake 911 calls punished

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According to media reports, a teenage hacker has been sentenced to almost a year in juvenile detention after admitting running a botnet and bombarding the 911 emergency service with hoax calls.

The 17-year-old hacker, from Worcester, Massachusetts, who was referred to in court documents only by his initials “NH” or by his online handle “DShocker”, confessed to a three year crime spree including controlling a zombie network of tens of thousands of compromised computers, using them for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

In addition, credit card information was stolen from innocent victims and used for fraudulent purchases.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, using subscriber information he stole from ISPs, the young hacker spoofed his phone number, and made fake calls to emergency calls regarding bomb threats and armed gunmen, prompting visits by SWAT teams.

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The practise is known as “swatting” because police SWAT teams normally respond, and if you’re in any doubt as to the seriousness on the practice check out this story from earlier in the year.

“DShocker” should be thanking his lucky stars that he was caught when he was. If he had been tried as an adult, he could have faced up to 10 years in jail and a fine of a quarter of a million dollars.

* Image source: pinprick’s Flickr photostream (Creative Commons)

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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