19/06/2024

24-Year-Old Sentenced Over String Of Cybercrime Offences

The PSNI have welcomed the sentencing of a 24-year-old County Antrim man for a number of cybercrime offences.

At Antrim Crown Court, Aaron Sterritt, pleaded guilty to offences under the Computer Misuse Act and five counts of conspiracy to commit an unauthorised act with intent to impair the operation of a computer. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of failure to comply with a notice, contrary to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

He was sentenced to serve 26 months suspended for three years.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Woods said: "Today's outcome follows from two investigations, one led by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the other by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"The NCA-led investigation focused on a massive cyberattack in December 2016, which significantly impacted numerous USA websites and services. The attacks were carried out by a group known as 'Star Patrol'. Aaron Sterritt, at that time a teenager, was one of the suspects, and the only one of the group from Northern Ireland.

"The investigation led by the Police Service of Northern Ireland focused on Sterritt's role in the development of malicious software used to attack networks of vulnerable computer systems globally during 2017 and 2018. A further version of malicious software developed by Sterritt exploited device vulnerabilities for the purpose of mining Ethereum cryptocurrency.
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Detective Chief Inspector Woods continued: "Detectives from our Cyber Crime Centre consistently work with national and international partners, including the National Crime Agency and the FBI, to assist investigations on a global scale.

"While cyber-related investigations range in impact from phishing attacks on individuals to significant cyber-attacks on large businesses, cyber criminals have one thing in common, and that's the hidden and technically sophisticated world in which they operate.

"Today's sentencing, however, shows that cyber criminals, such as Aaron Sterritt, will be identified, investigated and held to account. This has been achieved in partnership with the National Crime Agency and Public Prosecution Service, and we will continue to work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners worldwide to tackle those who would use digital and cyber technology to cause damage, both locally and globally."

Steve Laval, from the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, added: "DDoS attacks can have devastating consequences for victims and have become an appealing entry-level crime for offenders like Aaron Sterritt, who need little technical knowledge behind them.

"Our investigation was the result of successful collaboration with international partners in the US, as well as domestically with colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

"We will continue to do all we can to disrupt cyber criminals, using the full range of law enforcement tools available to achieve the highest impact against this threat."

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