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Canadian teen charged in Web site attack released

Boy arrested for CNN.com 'denial of service' hack has tough limits on Internet contact

April 19, 2000
Web posted at: 12:59 p.m. EDT (1659 GMT)


In this story:

Youth's boasting led to arrest

International effort lauded

Arrest in Web site defacement case

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



(CNN) -- A Canadian teen-ager, arrested and charged in connection with a February "denial of service" attack on CNN.com, has been released on bail with parole conditions similar to those of noted hacker Kevin Mitnick, Canadian police announced Wednesday.

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The 15-year-old boy, who has not been identified by name as stipulated under Canadian law, may only use computers in school under the direct supervision of a teacher. He is also prohibited from connecting to the Internet and cannot enter a store or company where computer services or parts are sold.

He is also barred from communicating with three of his closest friends. Police declined to elaborate on the last condition.

The February 8 attack on CNN.com slowed the site's news operations for nearly two hours, according to a CNN spokesperson.

Other high-profile Web sites attacked in February were Yahoo!, Excite, Buy.com, ZDNet and Amazon.com.

The Montreal-area youth, who uses the handle Mafiaboy, was charged on Monday with the attack on CNN.com. He faces two counts of "mischief to data" for the attack.

Investigators are examining whether he played a role in other attacks, and warn that other searches or arrests may occur. No details were released on any trial for the teen-ager.

Mitnick, who pled guilty to computer and wire fraud in 1999, was recently released from a U.S. prison on parole with the conditions that he cannot use any cell phone, computer or device that can be connected to the Internet.

Youth's boasting led to arrest

"Mafiaboy" came to the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shortly after the force was called in by the FBI to assist on February 14. Authorities said the boy bragged on Internet Relay Chat about his exploits.

"Hackers like to brag about their capability," said Inspector Yves Roussel, officer-in-charge of the RCMP's Commercial Crime unit. "Mafiaboy was not that good, actually. He wasn't what we could call a genius in that field."

Roussel said others could easily make the types of attacks made by "Mafiaboy." Several simple and easy-to-find tools are available for inflicting a distributed denial of service attack, including Tribal Flood Net and Trinoo.

International effort lauded

At a news conference Wednesday, officials from the RCMP and FBI lauded the high level of cooperation in the case.

"The excellent level of cooperation that exists at the international level between the police forces makes it possible that hackers are no longer immune from prosecution because of borders," Roussel said. "No matter where they are or who they are, hackers will be investigated, arrested and prosecuted in the courts."

"Unlike most crimes, cybercriminals know no boundaries and respect no sovereignties," said Bill Lynn, the FBI's assistant legal attache with the U.S. Embassy in Canada. "The arrest being announced here by RCMP demonstrates not only the skill of the Canadian investigators but the unparalleled cooperation."

Roussel declined to address concerns that Canadian computer crime law does not carry the serious consequences of U.S. law. If he was charged in the U.S., he would face the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which could include up to 10 years in prison for a repeat offense and twice the monetary loss to the victim. U.S. authorities have not yet decided whether "Mafiaboy" would be extradited to the United States.

Arrest in Web site defacement case

One other arrest has occurred in the investigation. Dennis Moran, a 17-year-old who went by the handle "Coolio," was arrested in March in a Web site defacement case.

Moran is alleged to have gained unauthorized access to the DARE anti-drug site. He was charged as an adult with two counts of unauthorized access to a computer system and was released on bail.

The attack on CNN Interactive marked the first major hack of the site since it launched in August 1995.




RELATED STORIES:
Can you counter-attack hackers?
April 7, 2000
Frisking computers at the door
April 6, 2000
Two arrested in Wales for credit card theft costing $3 million
March 24, 2000
Government computers: The ultimate hackers' proving ground
March 23, 2000
'Crime Boy's' go on hack spree
March 20, 2000
Justice launches cybercrime site
March 15, 2000
Is a new Internet architecture needed?
February 25, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Yahoo!
Excite
buy.com
ZDNet: Home Page
Amazon.com

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