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Why I did it: Former hacker Mitchell Frost explains his motivation

Joan Goodchild | Jan. 23, 2014
Frost took the time to talk about his experience in hacking and delves into the reasons why he did it, his thoughts on the punishment he received and his plans for the future.

I decided that I had to do something about what I was seeing in the world around me, so I knocked a couple of websites offline at the time thinking it will prevent the hate and conflict and fear mongering from being seen by people.

When it became clear you were going to face punishment for the attacks, did you think it would mean jail time?

They raided me in March of 2007 right after spring break. They took some computer stuff and took my roommate's stuff and had three agencies do the raid (FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security) all with guns pointed right at my head. They brought me into a room and said "if you help yourself now it will be easier at sentencing." I didn't answer any questions. They released me and didn't say much. I was scared shitless after that. I didn't know what to do. I remember now going to a class after the raid to take a math test and was shaking so bad.

About one day later, they expelled me from the school, even though I was not charged with anything yet. I moved back home and then contacted the Federal Public Defenders office in Cleveland and was assigned a lawyer. He said cases like mine take time and to stay out of trouble and he would get back to me.

I moved back home and got a job working as a carpet-cleaning technician. From 2007 and on, I tried to live a normal life but had that fear that something was coming. I ended up meeting my wife. We fell in love and she got pregnant in December of 2009.

Around May of 2010, my lawyer said I randomly received a judge and that it didn't look good because of her previous sentencing history. I was hoping for maybe a small amount of time or probation, considering I did not get arrested at the time of the raid in March 2007 and had not yet. I was living in fear for almost 4 years, not going to friends or out to parties and all that.

The judge ended up giving me 30 months and tried to place me under arrest right at the sentencing hearing. When she did this, it took the prosecutor and my lawyer to walk up to the bench and say I am not a flight risk with a newborn on the way and I knew about these potential charges for three years, so why couldn't I self-report? She finally agreed to let me self-report so I can tie up some things with my family before my time.

There was some debate after your sentencing about whether or not the penalty was too harsh. Do you think it was too extreme?
Way too extreme. Who was the victim? Yes, a couple of people had their servers down for a small period of time, but the jacked-up estimates of the damages were over inflated. Example: they said it took $10,000 for them to press one button on one switch to get access back to the network. The reasoning for the sentence has to do with amount of money lost, etc. Bill O'Reilly said he needed to spend $300,000 to upgrade his systems. My lawyer did not fight or really look into their claims of money loss.


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