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Teenager admits he participated in a DDoS cyber attack


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October 21, 2008

An eighteen-year old teenager in New Jersey has admitted that he participated in a high-profile cyber attack on the Church of Scientology last January that took its Web site offline and caused as much as $70,000 worth of damages.

A Verona resident, Dmitriy Guzner helped carry out a crippling DDoS (distributed denial of service) assault because he believed it furthered the goals of the Anti-Scientology group "Anonymous," to which he claimed to belong, according to court documents filed in federal court.

Guzner has since agreed to plead guilty to a single felony charge of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer.

He also agreed to pay $37,500 in various restitutions, a fee he is "jointly and severally liable" with others who participated in the same attack. He faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet.

Guzner is a student who participated in the attacks, said his attorney, Jeffrey Chabrowe, of The Blanch Law Firm in New York.

The DDoS attacks, which at times rendered Scientology's website unreachable, were said to be in retaliation for its misuse of copyright and trademark law in censorship of criticism against the Church.

The DDoS attacks, which take websites offline by bombarding them with more traffic than they can handle, were largely unsophisticated brute force floods, security experts have said.

Assistant U.S. attorney Wesley Hsu declined to provide additional details about the DDoS attack except to say that Guzner was located on the east coast while participating in the attack and that the Scientology servers were located in California.

This is the second time in October that an operative claimed to be linked to Anonymous has been hauled into court for hacking crimes. On Oct. 13, the son of a Tennessee legislator pleaded not guilty to charges he illegally broke in to the Yahoo Mail account of U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Screenshots from Palin's account eventually were posted to the Wikileaks website, an act Anonymous took credit for.

Guzner was tracked down by the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles is prosecuting the case. The Church of Scientology responded by moving its systems to a managed service at a different provider.

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Source: The FBI.


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