Why I Did It: Former Hacker Mitchell Frost Explains His Motivation
In 2006, Mitchell Frost, then a 19-year-old college student at the University of Akron, used the school's computer network to control the botnets he had created.
Wed, January 22, 2014
CSO — In 2006, Mitchell Frost, then a 19-year-old college student at the University of Akron, used the school's computer network to control the botnets he had created.
Authorities say between August 2006 and March 2007, Frost launched a series of denial of service (DDOS) attacks against several conservative web sites, including Billoreilly.com, Anncoulter.com and Rudy Giuliani's campaign site, Joinrudy2008.com. He is accused of taking down the O'Reilly site five times, as well as disrupting the University of Akron's network during a DDOS attack Frost allegedly launched on a gaming server hosted by the university.
Frost's dorm room at the university was raided in March 2007. What followed, according to Frost, was a long, complicated legal battle that ultimately lead to him spending over two years behind bars and owing thousands of dollars in legal and restitution fees for his crimes. Frost was released from prison in 2012 and is now serving probation.
Frost took the time to talk to CSO about his experience and delves into the reasons why he did it, his thoughts on the punishment he received and his plans for the future.
Tell us about your background. How did you become so knowledgeable about computers and when did hacking become something that interested you?
I started on computers around a young age and I have always had a mind that wants to keep exploring and learning. Hacking didn't start overnight, it all started by networking really. First I wanted to be able to have music without paying for it, so I joined some chat rooms on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). IRC is not used much, it's typically used only by smaller groups of hackers and gamers. When I was younger I would spend many hours in a row on the computer, and when I woke up or had free time, just continue on with what I was working on. You build skills and make connections with others and keep moving up until you have background in hacking. Let's just say I built my way up over the years 2000-2007.
What inspired you to do the kind of hacking you did in 2006 and 2007 to those conservative web sites? What were you hoping to accomplish by hacking those particular sites? How did you choose your targets and why?
In 2006, I was young and, even at that age, I could see there was a lot of corruption and media propaganda going on in newspapers and on television. At that time, I had a rather large and complicated botnet. With the botnet, I was able to use the compromised computers for almost anything; key strokes, DDOS, servers, passwords, pranks. I had several botnets over the years from a few to thousands and didn't do a whole lot of DDOS on servers because I had no need to.