In the first successful U.S. investigation into distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), two European individuals have been indicted for allegedly cyber attacking two Web sites.
One of the two individuals, a man named Axel Gembe, 25, of Germnay is said to be the programmer behind ‘Agobot’, a well known malicious software program that is used to create what is called a ‘botnet’ – a network of compromised systems used for a distributed attack.
Along with Gembe, a 24-year-old named Lee Graham Walker of Bleys Bolton, England was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in Los Angeles, California on one count of conspiracy and one count of internationally damaging a computer system.
Gembe and Walker were allegedly hired by Jay R. Echouafni, owner of Orbit Communication, a Massachusetts-based company that sells home satellite systems, to carry out DDoS attacks. The attacks were directed at two of Orbit’s direct competitors Web sites – Rapid Satellite of Miami, Florida, and Weaknees of Los Angeles, California.
As a result of the attacks, Weaknees’ business came to a halt for two weeks in October 2003, costing the company roughly $200,000 in loses according to the Department of Justice (DoJ). Rapid Satellite also suffered similar damages.
Echouafni currently remains at large while another man, Paul Ashley, who prosecutors describe as Echouafni’s associate, has already completed a two year prison sentence for his role in the conspiracy.
Walker is accused of helping maintain Gembe’s botnet. According to the indictment, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was used to discuss ways to make the code behind the botnet more powerful and damaging to target websites. During a DDoS attack, computers infected with the botnet code are directed to send out large amounts of data traffic to the targeted sites – this eventually causes the site become unavailable due to overloading.