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Originally published Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:03 PM

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FBI seizes computers from Gig Harbor home

The agency thinks the equipment may link a Washington man to a loose-knit group of cybervandals who have attacked websites and individuals who want to regulate sharing music and videos over the Internet.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes I'm willing to wager that the machine was a drone, unknowingly compromised into a... Read more
quotes Lol. This guy's IP just happened to be the random one on whom the finger of the guy loo... Read more
quotes I agree with you, Terrance. This is no member of anonymous. Read more

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The FBI has seized computers and other items it thinks may link a Gig Harbor man to a loose-knit group of cybervandals who have attacked websites and individuals who want to regulate sharing music and videos over the Internet.

A search warrant unsealed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma said federal agents pinpointed the individual after the attorney for rock star Gene Simmons, the bassist for the group KISS, turned over records of a so-called "Distributed Denial-of-Service" (DDoS) attack on the rocker's website shortly after Simmons offered keynote remarks at a conference at a cyber-marketing convention in Cannes, France, last October.

Simmons gave a keynote address at the MIPCOM conference and made comments about the record industry's failure to address peer-to-peer file sharing or enforce copyright laws.

On Oct. 14, 2010, 10 days after his speech, three Simmons and KISS-related websites were attacked from computers using programs designed to overload the sites and force them to crash. Another attack occurred four days later, forcing the websites to crash for several days.

"Both attacks on [Simmons'] websites were claimed by an Internet activist group named 'Anonymous,' which titled its attacks 'Operation Payback,' " according to the search warrant.

The group has also claimed attacks on the Motion Picture Association of American, the Recording Industry Association of America, U.S. Copyright Office and PayPal, Visa and Mastercard, the warrant said.

Simmons responded to the attacks with this threat: "Our legal team and the FBI have been on the case, and we have found a few, shall we say 'adventurous' young people, who feel they are above the law. And, as stated in my MIPCOM speech, we will sue their pants off." But only after he sees them prosecuted, he said.

FBI Special Agent Scott Love of the agency's Los Angeles bureau wrote that the bureau was able to take the logs of the attack compiled by Simmons' attorney and cull from them specific computer addresses that were used in the attack. The computer in the home in Gig Harbor was found to have attacked Simmon's website more than 48,000 times in just over 47 minutes the day of the second attack.

"I believe that someone with access to the computer at the subject residence took part in the DDoS attacks," Love wrote.

No arrests have been made.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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