Teen arrested for Web attack on CNN.com

Confirming suspicions that the attacks on popular Web sites in February were the work of "script kiddies," officials have arrested a 15-year-old Canadian who allegedly bragged about perpetrating at least one of the attacks.

The teen, whose hacker name is "Mafiaboy," was arrested Saturday in Montreal and released Monday after pleading not guilty to charges of two counts of mischief to data — in this case, obstruction of the lawful use of data. He is accused of conducting a distributed-denial-of-service, or DDOS, attack on CNN.com and the more than 1,200 sites it hosts worldwide. The attack disrupted access to the sites for more than four hours Feb. 8.

The Yankee Group, a Boston-based research firm, estimated that the attacks cost the industry about $1.2 billion. Mafiaboy allegedly bragged about the attack in Internet Relay Chat forums, according to Michael Lyle, chief technology officer at Recourse Technologies Inc.

The attack used an existing script and required no deep knowledge of computer networks to pull it off.

In addition, the attacker's methods were sloppy. "There were pieces left behind on our computer," says Kevin Schmidt, campus network programmer at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where two computers were compromised, but only one was used in an attack. "There was some indication that Mafiaboy may have been involved. There are indications but not proof."

Yahoo was the first site attacked in February, followed during the next two days by eBay, buy.com, Amazon.com, CNN.com and E-Trade. The FBI said it also was looking into an attack on Excite.com, which came to light after the first attacks were announced.

DDOS attacks are designed to shut down target sites by flooding them with traffic. In this case, the victimized sites were not entirely shut down, but most visitors were unable to reach them. The excessive traffic comes from "zombie" or "slave" computers, usually high-speed servers onto which someone has installed software that includes instructions for carrying out an attack.

Charges in other attacks could be filed against Mafiaboy or other suspects, according to Sgt. Gilles Michaud of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If convicted, Mafiaboy faces two years in a juvenile detention center.

— For more Internet economy news, visit TheStandard.com. Article copyright 2000 The Industry Standard.

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