A Solihull, United Kingdom teen apart of a team of hackers responsible for cyberattacks against government-owned websites was arrested Wednesday under cybercriminal charges and could face serious jail time.
Charlton Floate, 19, who worked from his family home not only broke into government owned website, but also infected and took control over others computer, bragging of him and his groups success throughout the Internet.
Floate has confessed to three charges under the Computer Misuse Act alongside an additional three for possessing images ruled illicit by the law.
According to prosecutor Kevin Barry of the Birmingham Crown Court, back in November 2012 the teen ran two test runs by hacking into the computer systems of two individuals in the United States.
Later, in January 2013, Floate and his team targeted the widely used Home Office website, which serves UK residents with knowledge regarding passports, immigration, policies and more.
Floate’s team was able to knock the site offline with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack, a method where attackers send a large amount of faulty traffic to a domain at one time with the hopes of overloading the server causing it to turn offline, efficiently blocking users for accessing the site.
Hackers were able to do this by infecting others computer with malware, abusing their machine among several thousand others to perform the attack.
Likewise, a site used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that allows people to report crime online was also temporarily taken offline by the hackers.
Once the sites were successfully knocked offline, Floate took to social media to celebrate, boasting of his attack success on forums and throughout Twitter, stating the FBI site had been offline for nearly five hours.
“A successful attack on the FBI.gov website is regarded by hackers as the Holy Grail of hacking. It was this which he attempted and, indeed, achieved,” the judge said speaking on Floate in the courtroom. “He was the person who instituted such attacks and assembled the tools and personnel for doing so.”
Federal officials were able to identify Floate’s IP address when he checked how the attacks were going. Police were able to pinpoint Floate and arrest him in the United Kingdom. Following his arrest, police seized electronics allegedly used to commit the attack which included a single computer along with a mobile phone.
Barry also claimed that evidence indicating that Floate attempted to recruit another hacker to carry out the same attacks came forward. Conversations speaking on vulnerabilities within certain websites and possible targets was of discussion, with targets including the CIA and White House.
Barry claimed Floate was the brains of the operation, carrying out most of the attack and being “at the heart of the conspiracy.” However, Floate has claimed he was a mere spokesperson or public relations office for the group, speaking publicly on behalf of them.