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'World of Warcraft' cyberattacker sentenced to year in prison

He knocked thousands of players offline to spite a rival.
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Reuters/Ina Fassbender

One World of Warcraft player is paying the price for taking a virtual rivalry too far. A US federal court has sentenced Romanian man Calin Mateias to spend a year in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to launching a distributed denial of service attack against WoW's servers in response to being "angered" by one player. The 2010 traffic flood knocked thousands of players offline and cost Blizzard $30,000 (which Mateias repaid in April) in recovery expenses.

A defense sentencing memorandum claimed that Mateias had been spurred by a "juvenile desire to win the game." That's not really how the online role-playing title works (there's no definitive victory over fellow players, and they don't lose when they're offline), but you get the idea -- it was reportedly a hotheaded decision.

The plea led to officials dropping charges against him in a Pennsylvania case. However, the prison term is more than his defense was hoping for -- they'd wanted him to go free given that he had already spent half a year behind bars following his extradition to the US. Clearly, the sentence serves as a message -- no in-game feud warrants a cyberattack.

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