James Robinson, 33, was sentenced last month to six years in prison for launching denial of service (DDoS) attacks that shut down websites belonging to the city of Akron, Ohio, the Akron Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Robinson, originally from Ohio, was arrested in May 2019 and pleaded guilty to damaging protected computers. Furthermore, U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko ordered Robinson to pay $668,684 in restitution.
Robinson had publicly documented every cyberattack he had carried out on his hacker handle Twitter profile during the time they occurred.
@AkronPhoenix420‘s Twitter profile has numerous tweets regarding the DDoS attacks Robinson reportedly conducted.
Some of the websites AkronPhoenix420 targeted belonged to the United States Department of Defense (DoD), NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the Department of the Treasury (USDT), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Significantly, such cyberattacks that Robinson launched never resulted in any mass outages. Moreover, two cybersecurity companies that supply DDoS mitigation services stated that they never knew of Robinson’s malicious activities until he was detained in 2018.
AkronPhoenix420 always connected with the decentralized international hacktivist group Anonymous, frequently tagging tweets to imply they were part of more significant attacks. Nevertheless, there lacks evidence to imply he worked with other hacktivists to launch cyberattacks.
Notably, AkronPhoenix420’s most prevalent target included the website of his home town, Akron, Ohio and the site’s part for the local police department.
When law enforcement investigators questioned Robinson, he acknowledged to partaking in cyberattacks and told investigators that he had grudges against the city’s law enforcement.
With stressor services available online that may carry out a DDoS attack for a hacktivist, Robinson could quickly deploy these tools for malicious purposes.
Robinson deployed such DDoS booter services and rented DDoS botnets to carry out his cyberattacks.
Court documents illustrate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that a number of Robinson’s DDoS attacks against Akron’s official site was successful.
How AkronPhoenix420 Was Caught By The FBI
The FBI was able to identify Robinson after he accessed his hacker handle AkronPhoenix420 Twitter account on one occasion from his own home IP address.
Moreover, Robinson linked his own mobile phone number with his hacktivist Twitter account which made it easy for law enforcement investigators to catch him.
Hence, officials were able to obtain a search warrant for Robinson’s house. During a search of his home, FBI agents discovered a Guy Fawkes mask and a cell phone with a cracked screen much like a phone seen in tweets posted by his hacker handle.