Gaining an advantage in online multiplayer games using in-game exploits is one thing (cheating, but technically legal), but going so far as to develop malicious software to attack a game’s servers is something else entirely. A teenager in Manchester has been arrested for allegedly interfering with Call of Duty: Black Ops servers, and is currently detained at his home by Metropolitan Police’s e-Crime Unit. The software used to launch the attacks, ‘Phenom Booter’, was traced to the UK by game publisher Activision, which found it for sale on an forum allegedly connected to the unnamed 17 year old.
He’s being questioned in connection with a denial of service attack launched back in September, which affected a number of servers. The game’s publisher, Activision, noticed and contacted authorities, who traced the hacker’s IP back to the Greater Manchester area.
The teenager is currently in police custody under suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse act. “Online gaming is a major retail sector with millions of titles being sold in the run-up to Christmas worldwide,” said Detective Inspector Paul Hoare of the Metropolitan Police e-Crime unit in a statement. Detective Paul Hoare added: “Programs marketed in order to disrupt the online infrastructure not only affect individual players but have commercial and reputational consequences for the companies concerned. “These games attract both children and young people to the online environment and this type of crime can often be the precursor to further offending in more traditional areas of online crime.”
The server was hosted in the UK and further investigation traced the IP address of the attacker to the Greater Manchester area. The Call Of Duty franchise is among the biggest brands in the gaming industry. With Phenom Booter under his belt, the Manchester teen was able to kick players out the game, or even take down entire servers. These kinds of cyber-powers don’t come for free, though. Monthly access to the tool costs around $20 (£12). It could cost him rather more, too — he now faces charges of violating the Computer Misuse Act of 1990.