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A teenage hacker from Solihull who brought down the FBI and Home Office websites from his bedroom has said that he “honestly regrets” his actions.
Charlton Floate, 19, used his internet expertise to target the US and British government sites – but avoided an immediate jail sentence last month.
The 19-year-old was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service.
Mr Recorder John Steele QC said that Floate was “highly intelligent” with a deep and clear knowledge of information technology who had taken a lead role in the conspiracy and had recruited others.
The self-styled internet and online marketing guru had previously admitted three charges under the Computer Misuse Act and two of possessing prohibited images.
The teenager, then aged 16, managed to cripple the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s internet crime complaints centre (IC3) site for more than five hours, by flooding the server with huge amounts of data traffic.
Speaking to BBC 5 Live Daily , the reformed hacker expressed deep regret at his actions.
He said: “I honestly regret doing that type of thing now. I got caught up in a world that is rather dark, but it gives you a home when you’re not quite happy with real life,” he told the radio station.
And yet, according to Floate, hacking these government sites wasn’t much of a challenge.
“It was surprisingly easy to be honest. It took me about 40 or 45 minutes,” he said.
“The fact that the Home Office’s website was connected to its internal network was alarming in itself.”
“If you have passport files or something on the computers at the Home Office, they’re completely exploitable to someone who has an internet connection because they’re connected.”
In a statement read to court during his sentencing, the FBI said as a result of the hack on January 17, 2013 “the public was unable to submit complaints on the website, (and) unable to view public service announcements”.
He then hacked the Home Office’swebsite putting it out of action for 83 minutes in a denial of service (DOS) attack on January 22, 2013, which crippled 16 linked sites in all.
Judge Steele said: “He was craving for recognition by fellow hackers and driven by a sense of youthful bravado, boasting to others in the hackers community about his prowess and a achievements.”
“These actions were wrong, serious and criminal. You must have known that from the outset. They are absolutely nothing to be proud of.”
In sentencing Floate Judge Steele said he had taken into account his age at the time he committed the offences, his remorse and that he had shown significant remorse.