“These kids are super smart, but they didn’t do anything high level—they just had a good idea. It’s the most successful IoT botnet we’ve ever seen—and a sign that computer crime isn’t just about desktops anymore.”

– FBI supervisory special agent Bill Walton on the creators of the Mirai botnet.

Wired recently published a piece interviewing several people who were involved in analyzing and investigating the biggest cyber security breach of 2016, caused by three college-aged individuals who were looking to gain an advantage in Minecraft by creating the Mirai botnet malware.

FBI supervisory special agent Bill Walton describes how the trio didn’t intend to create this sort of chaos. “Mirai was originally developed to help them corner the Minecraft market, but then they realized what a powerful tool they built,” he explains. “Then it just became a challenge for them to make it as large as possible.”

The creators of Mirai targeted French Internet provider OVH because it offered Minecraft DDoS mitigation tools and certain servers. “Why are these Minecraft servers getting hit so often?” FBI special agent Elliott Peterson remembers asking.

“The digital arms race in DDoS is inexorably linked to Minecraft,”  says FBI special agent Doug Klein. “You look at the servers—those guys are making huge money, so it’s in my benefit to knock your server offline and steal your customers. The vast majority of these Minecraft servers are being run by kids—you don’t necessarily have the astute business judgment in the quote-unquote ‘executives’ running these servers.”

The piece also dives into how investigators tracked down the main culprit behind Mirai, as well as highlighting other servers and companies the malware infected during its reign.

Minecraft was the reason the Mirai botnet was created