A federal judge ordered a 22-year-old convicted of carrying out a now-infamous cyberattack on the Rutgers University computer network to pay $8.6 million in restitution.
Paras Jha of Fanwood had previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp of the District of New Jersey to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for his part in the attack. Two others also have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.
Shipp, sitting in Trenton, on Oct. 26 issued the sentence, which includes six months of home incarceration and 2,500 hours’ community service, in addition to paying restitution.
In a release announcing the sentencing, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito detailed hacking activities that included generating artificial revenue through advertising fraud. The release said Jha took part in creating “clickfraud” botnets that captured thousands of computers and other devices connected to the internet without their owner’s knowledge.
Between November 2014 and September 2016, Jha executed a series of “distributed denial of service” (DDOS) attacks on the networks of Rutgers University, Carpentino said.
“These occur when multiple computers acting in unison flood the internet connection of a targeted computer or computers.” the release said. “Jha’s attacks effectively shut down Rutgers University’s central authentication server, which maintained, among other things, the gateway portal through which staff, faculty, and students delivered assignments and assessments. At times, Jha succeeded in taking the portal offline for multiple consecutive periods, causing damage to Rutgers University, its faculty, and its students.”
Defense attorney Robert Stahl of Westfield said by email that Jha will be allowed to pay the $8.6 million over time as a 20-year judgment.
The money represents the loss Rutgers claims for the interruption to the university’s website and internet services, plus the costs associated with repairs and many upgrades, according to the defense attorney.
“Paras did not commit the offense against Rutgers for money. He derived no money at all. The restitution award is strictly the damages Rutgers claimed,” Stahl said.
“Paras and his entire family are very pleased that the judge took into consideration Paras’ extensive cooperation, youth and other relevant sentencing factors to fashion a reasonable sentence,” Stahl said. “Paras has completely turned his life around, he is now a mature, responsible young man who sincerely regrets his past actions. He will continue to live up to the court’s expectations and will work hard to repay the loss to Rutgers. He is grateful for the support of his school, employer, the FBI, his family and his attorneys through this extremely stressful time.”