CEO of a cybersecurity company arrested of hacking clients to sell his services

As in any other context, blind trusting someone can be a bad idea in terms of cybersecurity. An individual originally from Georgia, US, has pleaded guilty to hiring a denial-of-service (DDoS) platform to launch attacks on various websites. The unusual thing about the case is that the defendant was the CEO and co-founder of a company that provides DDoS attack protection services.

The court documents mention that Tucker Preston, 22, has been found guilty of a charge of “damage to protected computers using a program, code, or command.” In case you don’t remember, a DDoS attack consists of saturating a specific website using fake traffic, preventing legitimate users from accessing the attacked site.

Preston’s illicit activities appear to date back to 2016, when a cybersecurity firm described the mode of operation of BackConnect Security, the company co-founded by the defendant. According to the report, this company had an unusual habit of launching denial-of-service attacks and then offering website administrators its services to protect against this practice.

Preston’s illegal practices were evident after authorities shut down vDOS, which was then the world’s most popular and powerful DDoS-for-hire service. The administrators of vDOS were arrested and a database was exposed with all the information that made possible the operations of this illicit platform, including the data of its users, including Preston, who was then only 19 years old. 

In addition to the closure of this platform, cybersecurity experts mention that other factors, such as the use of a pseudonym associated with the creator of Mirai, one of the largest botnets ever created, contributed to the location, arrest and trial of Preston, who was found shortly after federal authorities closed vDOS.

According to a report by the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), Preston faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison for the crime he committed, in addition to a fine of up to $25k USD, or double the profits generated by his Illicit activities. The defendant will hear his final sentence on May 7.