FBI on offensive in 'cyber war,' raiding hackers' homes
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI has raided at least 18 homes over the past month in response to computer hackers who have vowed to vandalize every federal government Web site.
"I would definitely rather be sitting at a computer right now," said a 19-year-old who cofounded a hacker group called Global Hell, or "gH". The shelves and sockets in his apartment are now bare following an FBI raid.
Global Hell was the name splashed on the official Web site of the White House after it was hacked in May.
The FBI "took computers, printers, modems and all computer- related stuff that was here. Phones, alarm clocks," said the teen, who asked to remain unidentified.
He said that he didn't break into the White House Web site, but that a member of his group did.
The site (http://www.whitehouse.gov) features a virtual White House tour, presidential speeches and other information about the Clinton administration.
It contains no sensitive data but was forced to shut down for more than 24 hours following the cyber attack.
Some members of the hacker community and the FBI have been battling each other for months.
"It seems to be a never-ending battle that just seesaws back and forth," said a hacker who calls himself Space Rogue. "They were upset with the FBI's actions against Global Hell and started de-facing even more Web pages, some government, some not."
The FBI says it pursues hacker cases to discourage kids from turning to more serious computer crimes.
"We've had lots of cases where the same techniques were used to steal credit card information where the hackers can then go and use the credit cards to purchase goods," said FBI agent Michael Vatis.
Hacking into Web sites is a felony that carries a maximum punishment of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Science Correspondent Ann Kellan contributed to this report.
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