Game Over for ‘World of Warcraft’ Hacker Headed to Prison

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Romanian man who launched a cyberattack on the servers of the popular online role-playing game “World of Warcraft” to a year in federal prison.

Calin Mateias, 38, attacked the servers of “WoW” owner Blizzard Entertainment between February and September 2010 after getting into disputes with other European players. The plot orchestrated by Mateias impacted World of Warcraft servers in the United States and across Europe.

“Angered by a player he regularly competed against, the defendant determined to defeat his ‘WoW’ opponents by interrupting the game’s server so they could not access the game,” according to a defense sentencing memorandum.

“World of Warcraft” is an online virtual world where players participate in a game using avatars. Using his in-game avatar, Mateias often participated in collaborative events such as “raids” where players join forces to meet game objectives and are rewarded with virtual proceeds or in-game advantages.

The Bucharest-born Mateias became involved in disputes with other players for a variety of reasons, including the division of loot and membership in raid teams, according to Justice Department spokesman Thom Mrozek.

Mateias, who has been in custody since Nov. 20, was “motivated by a juvenile desire to win the game, and for others to lose it,” the memorandum said.

The attack, called a distributed denial-of-service or DDoS, flooded ‘World of Warcraft’s’ servers in Irvine, California, with fake requests from multiple sources. The deluge of traffic overwhelmed the servers and collapsed the system for paying customers.

Prosecutors said Blizzard Entertainment estimates the cyberattack cost about $30,000 to repel.

Mateias paid $30,000 in restitution to Blizzard Entertainment last month to compensate the company for labor costs associated with countering the computer attacks, according to court documents.

DDoS attacks have been used by cybercriminals targeting banks, corporations and news websites. The cost to repel the cyberattacks presents major challenges to many organizations.

Mateias, who was extradited to the United States to face federal charges, pleaded guilty in downtown Los Angeles in February to a single felony count of causing intentional damage to a protected computer.

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II handed down the sentence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section.

%d bloggers like this: