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British Hacker Known As 'Spiderman' Sentenced Over Cyberattack

A man identified only as Daniel K. covers his face with a folder as he sits in a courtroom in Cologne, Germany, on Friday.
Thilo Schmuelgen
A man identified only as Daniel K. covers his face with a folder as he sits in a courtroom in Cologne, Germany, on Friday.

A German court sentenced a 29-year-old British hacker who confessed to committing a cyberattack last November that temporarily took down Internet access for nearly 1 million German consumers, according to news reports.

The court in the city of Cologne handed down a suspended sentence Friday of one year and eight months, Reuters reports. The news service adds that the maximum sentence was 10 years; prosecutors had sought a sentence of two years.

British authorities arrested the man near London in February and sent him to Germany to face trial. The U.K. has requested the man's extradition as he may face separate charges there.

The hacker, named only as Daniel K. and who was known online as the "Spiderman" among other aliases, held up a red manila folder to obscure his face during the court appearance.

Reuters says the cyberattack last November struck the German Internet provider Deutsche Telekom and caused outages for roughly 4.5 percent of its 20 million customers; the company put the damages at roughly 2 million euros ($2.3 million).

During previous court proceedings in Cologne, the man said he had been acting on behalf of a Liberian telecommunications company when he carried out the cyberattack, which then became unwieldy. He told the court it was "the biggest mistake of my life."

According to The Guardian:

"The Liberian telecommunications company that commissioned the attack had not asked him to hack Deutsche Telekom, the man said, but wanted to create a 'botnet', a worldwide network of hijacked machines, with which to knock out a competing business via a further attack.

"So-called 'distributed denial of service' attacks are designed to knock sites and servers offline by sending them more data than they can handle."

Shortly after the cyberattack, a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom said the incursion was "badly programmed," the Guardian reports. "It didn't function properly and didn't do what it was meant to do. Otherwise the consequences of the attack would have been a lot worse."

The newspaper adds that the man said he took on the assignment for a roughly $10,000 fee because he was getting married. He also told the court that he had no degree in computer sciences and only completed "a couple of programming courses."

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