An Illinois man has been sentenced to two years in prison for running a distributed denial of service (DDoS) platform that enabled threat actors to perform more than 200,000 attacks.

Matthew Gatrel, 33, created and ran the websites “downthem.org” and “ampnode.com.” The former offered subscriptions to a powerful DDoS arsenal, while the latter was a bulletproof hosting service that provided support to customers in launching their own DDoS attacks.

The FBI spearheaded the operation in coordination with the United Kingdom National Crime Agency and the Dutch Police.

Gatrel was found guilty of three felonies, including:

  • one count of conspiracy to commit unauthorized impairment of a protected computer
  • one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
  • one count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer

The sites that Gatrel operated provided threat actors short-term access to malicious infrastructure, allowing them to perform damaging attacks by renting and selecting DDoS attacks they wanted to launch.

The Department of Justice says that Gatrel helped these threat actors who conducted attacks by offering guidance and demonstrations of his services.

From October 2014, when Gatrel built these DDoS platforms, until his arrest in August 2021, DownThem.org had launched hundreds of thousands of DDoS attacks.

According to the DOJ announcement, “records from the DownThem service revealed more than 2,000 registered users and more than 200,000 launched attacks, including attacks on homes, schools, universities, municipal and local government websites, and financial institutions worldwide.”

Co-defendant Juan Martinez, who pleaded guilty to one felony count – the unauthorized impairment of a protected computer – was sentenced to five years’ probation.