Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

16 Arrested in Nationwide Hacker Crackdown

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI just announced that 14 people have been arrested around the country in connection with an investigation into the activities of the hacker gang calling itself Anonymous. Two others were arrested on what are being described as “cyber-related charges.”

The 14 arrested in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio have been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Jose, California. I’ve embedded the complaint below.

Two others were arrested on similar charges on two separate complaints in Florida. The Florida case concerns the attack on InfraGard, the public-private information-sharing partnership affiliated with the FBI. The New Jersey case concerns the release of confidential documents stolen from AT&T. These would appear to be the first U.S. arrests connected with the LulzSec crew that’s been so active this summer.

Additionally, police in the U.K. arrested another person and police in The Netherlands arrested four more people in connection with the case.

The indictment names 14 people: Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, a.k.a. “Anthrophobic;” Joshua John Covelli, 26, a.k.a. “Absolem” and “Toxic;” Keith Wilson Downey, 26; Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, a.k.a. “No” and “MMMM;” Donald Husband, 29, a.k.a. “Ananon;” Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, a.k.a. “Trivette,” “Triv” and “Reaper;” Ethan Miles, 33; James C. Murphy, 36; Drew Alan Phillips, 26, a.k.a. “Drew010;” Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, a.k.a. “Jeffer,” “Jefferp” and “Ji;” Daniel Sullivan, 22; Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42; and Christopher Quang Vo, 22. One individual’s name has been withheld by the court, which suggests he or she is a juvenile.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer.

The 14 are accused of carrying out a December distributed denial of service attack against PayPal, the payment site owned by eBay. DDOS attacks are when attackers overwhelm a Web server with fake requests for attention at such a high volume that legitimate users can’t get through.

The group has also claimed responsibility for attacks against Visa, and at one point planned to attack Amazon. Various other factions connected to Anonymous have also attacked Sony and recently claimed responsibility for a hacking attack against the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The FBI also made arrests today in the attack on the Web site of InfraGard, a non-profit group affiliated with the FBI itself. Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, was arrested today by FBI agents and charged with intentional damage to a protected computer. He’s been charged in the Middle District of Florida and has already appeared in a federal court in Orlando.

The complaint alleges that Arciszewski accessed without authorization the Tampa Bay InfraGard website and uploaded three files, and then Tweeted about it on Twitter.

InfraGard is a public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection sponsored by the FBI with chapters in all 50 states.

In a related complaint unsealed in the District of New Jersey, the DOJ charged Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, New Mexico with stealing confidential business information stored on AT&T’s servers and posting it on a public file sharing site. Moore is charged with one count of accessing a protected computer without authorization.

According to the New Jersey complaint, Moore, a customer support contractor for AT&T, exceeded his authorized access to AT&T’s servers and downloaded thousands of documents, applications and other files that, on the same day, he allegedly posted on a public file hosting site. That would be The Pirate Bay.

According to the complaint, on June 25, the computer hacking group LulzSec publicized that they had obtained confidential AT&T documents and made them publicly available on the Internet. The documents were the ones Moore had previously uploaded. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Here’s the indictment.

Indictment 7.19.11

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