Hacker gets two years in jail for celebrity 'swatting'

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Michelle ObamaImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
First Lady Michelle Obama was one of many people to have their data exposed by Mir Islam

A US hacker who put the personal data of celebrities and officials online has been sentenced to two years in jail.

New Yorker Mir Islam also made bogus calls that resulted in armed police storming the homes of film stars, federal workers and public figures.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the sentence reflected his involvement in many campaigns of online harassment.

Islam will serve one year in jail as he has been in federal custody for the past 12 months.

The names, birthdays, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers of more than 50 people including First Lady Michelle Obama, FBI director Robert Mueller and CIA director John Brennan were posted by Islam to the Exposed.su website, said the DoJ.

The information was used by "countless others" to carry out a variety of finance-related frauds, said the DoJ, leaving many people suffering credit problems.

'I was invincible'

In addition to "doxing" public figures in this way, Islam also engaged in another malicious hacker tactic of "swatting", which involves making calls about bogus incidents that require armed police to investigate.

Many people, including actor Ashton Kutcher, music impresario Jay Z and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, were "swatted" by Islam in this way.

"This crime not only diverted first responders from actual life-threatening emergencies and wasted their valuable time and resources, but it also caused severe emotional distress to a large number of victims," said US attorney John Leonardo.

In court, Islam defended himself, saying that at the time he carried out the attacks he was suffering from depression and a bipolar disorder.

"I didn't expect to go as far as I did, but because of these disorders I felt I was invincible," Islam is reported to have said in court. "The mistakes I made before, I have to pay for that. I understand that."

Court papers revealed that the doxing and swatting attacks were carried out while Islam was co-operating with the FBI after being arrested in 2012 for trying to buy and sell stolen credit cards.

Islam also made a fake bomb threat and cyberstalked a woman during his campaigns of harassment, said the DoJ.

An investigation into the other people he worked with when stealing data and exposing it online is continuing, said the FBI.