The conviction earlier this week of a Finnish teenager who committed 50,700 online crimes, many of which were targeted at the video game industry, would typically be cause for celebration among executives. For John Smedley, CEO of Daybreak Games, it was just the latest stage of an ongoing, vicious online war, where he has often found himself standing at ground zero.
Julius “zeekill” Kivimaki was part of Lizard Squad, a notorious group of hackers whose exploits include taking Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live services down during the Christmas holidays last year. Despite the volume of charges he was convicted of on Wednesday, though, he avoided jail time, receiving a suspended sentence of two years in prison.
That didn’t sit well with Smedley, who quickly took to Twitter to relate his own history with Kivimaki—accusing the minor of repeatedly targeting him with online information leaks and more.
“He’s a sociopath and will get what’s coming to him,” wrote Smedley, who added he is considering a civil suit against Kivimaki’s parents.
Not too long after that, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack was launched against Daybreak’s servers – making games like Planetside 2 and H1Z1 unplayable. (Both games continued to report issues on Friday afternoon.) Lizard Squad took credit, tweeting “Hope you like our present John Smedley.”
It’s not unusual for hacker groups to sometimes target executives, but the intensity at which they’ve gone after Smedley is shocking. Smedley did not reply to requests for comment from Fortune, but did detail a list of allegations against Kivimaki on Reddit.
“He was the guy that brought down my flight with a bomb threat,” wrote Smedley, who was onboard an American Airlines flight last August that was forced to make an emergency landing due to a security threat. “I’ve heard the entire recording where he convinced an airline customer service agent there was a bomb on the plane. He also in conjunction with others has sent me pictures of my father’s grave with nasty stuff on it. I’ve had my entire credit history put out on the internet including my SSN and my families [sic] info. We’ve had multiple social networks and other things hacked and had my family members called.”
Smedley also said he has been ‘swatted’ multiple times—when police are fooled into thinking there’s an emergency at a victim’s house, and often activate their swat teams—and has been the victim of serious financial fraud from hackers, presumably Lizard Squad.
“I’ve … had over 50 false credit applications submitted in my name and had to deal with the ramifications of what happens to your credit when this kind of thing happens. It’s not good,” he said. “And to top it all off they decided to submit false tax returns.”
Judge Wilhelm Norrmann cited Kivimaki’s age as a factor in determining the punishment for his crimes.
“[The verdict] took into account the young age of the defendant at the time, his capacity to understand the harmfulness of the crimes, and the fact that he had been imprisoned for about a month during the pre-trial investigation,” said a statement from the court, as quoted by the BBC.
Still, security officials worry that the light sentence could actually encourage future hacks, rather than prevent them.
“As long as the judicial system treats cyber crime as a ‘victimless’ crime rather than a crime against people who are terribly harmed, hackers will see getting caught as a minor nuisance not a deterrent,” says Hemu Nigam, former computer crimes prosecutor and CEO of SSP Blue, an Internet security consultant business. “If someone committed [nearly] 51,000 crimes in the ‘real’ world, they would be receiving multiple life sentences.”
Smedley, in the meantime, said he has no plans to back down from his ongoing fight.
“I’ve been working with law enforcement to put [Kivimaki] and others into jail where they belong,” he said. “Some of them are minors which makes it tough. Most of them are outside the U.S., which makes it tougher. But I’m patient and I’m going to be relentless about this.”
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