DDOS attackers appear in US court
Lee Graham Walker, a British citizen, and the German malware programmer Axel Gembe have appeared in a federal court in San Francisco charged with launching DDoS attacks to shut down two US web retailers in 2003. The defendants, who have not been taken into custody, are accused of conspiracy and intentionally damaging computer systems. If convicted, the pair face up to 15 years in prison. Walker and Gembe are alleged to have constructed a botnet and used it to launch a denial-of-service attack against web sites belonging to electronic retailers WeaKnees and Rapid Satellite which put them out of commission for two weeks. WeaKnees claims to have lost more than $200,000 as a result.
The indictment says the pair were hired by the fugitive Jay R. Echouafni, former owner of the satellite TV company Orbit Communications, and his business partner Paul Ashley, who admitted a charge relating to the same computer attack and was imprisoned in 2004. The US Department of Justice said last Thursday that the indictment against Walker and Gembe was a result of the first successful investigation by the FBI into a distributed denial-of-service attack against a commercial web site.
Gembe, the developer and namer of the malicious programs Agobot and Phatbot, was arrested in 2006 in Landshut, Southern Germany, and charged with helping to launch DDoS attacks against US web sites. He received just a one year suspended sentence because of his difficult childhood and his attempts to improve his situation. Gembe is thought to have broken into the internal network of US games producer Valve and stolen the source code for the game Half Life 2. The prosecutors at the time were unable to produce satisfactory evidence of Gembe's involvement because Valve had refused to press charges.