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World of Warcraft Hacker Gets Federal Prison Sentence

By Molly Zilli, Esq. on May 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When you're a kid, grown-ups seem so mature and wise. And then you become an adult and you realize that grown-ups can be just as immature and petty as children, but with less of an excuse and a lot more power. In one shining display of adulthood, a grown man launched a cyberattack on the servers of the video game, "World of Warcraft," after getting angry at his online opponents. Now that gamer will spend a year in a grown-up federal prison.

Determined to Defeat His Opponents

Calin Mateias, a 38-year-old Romanian man, regularly competed against other online players in the popular role-playing game, "World of Warcraft." As a Justice Department press release stated, gamers used avatars to participate in collaborative events, such as raids, and were "rewarded with virtual proceeds or in-game advantages." The release goes on to explain that Mateias got involved in disputes with other players "for a variety of reasons, including the division of loot and membership in raid teams." Well, what adult wouldn't get mad about that?

Crashing the Server

In a show of sportsmanship, Mateias responded to these disputes by orchestrating "distributed denial of service" (or DDoS) attacks on World of Warcraft servers. DDoS attacks are accomplished by using multiple computers to overload the network with superfluous requests. Blizzard Entertainment, the owner and operator of World of Warcraft says the servers crash prevented some paying customers (perhaps including some of Mateias's arch rivals?) from accessing the game and cost the company nearly $30,000 to repel.

Extradited, Charged, Sentenced to Prison

After Mateias was extradited to the U.S., he pleaded guilty to one count of "intentional damage to a protected computer" for the cyberattack, and paid almost $30,000 in restitution to Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison, where he'll have plenty of time to think about all the other grown-up things he can do when he gets out.

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