Chicago (IL) - Last Friday, an 18 year old man from New Jersey pleaded guilty to federal computer hacking charges for his participation in a denial of service attack against the Church of Scientology websites. This was part of the efforts of hacker group Anonymous.
Dmitriy Guzner is charged with one felony count of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer for his distribution of a denial of service attack in January. He faces a sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison based upon stipulations in his plea bargain, which will also force him to pay $37,500 in restitution.
Members of Anonymous previously targeted a Neo-Nazi webcaster, virtual worlds and groups and even an epilepsy message board. One of the most recent acts connected to the group was the illegal access to Sarah Palin’s e-mail account by Tennessee student David Kernell, who shared contents and the password on an Anonymous message board.
This case, heard Friday, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is one of the first in a prosecution of an Anonymous member. The Church of Scientology was targeted by Anonymous following Tom Cruise’s video published for followers of the religion.
The not only organized the denial of service attack, but also wrote scripts that sent overwhelming amounts of fake traffic to different Scientology websites. The group swamped the phone lines with a heavy amount of prank phone calls and sent black fax pages to the many different offices of scientology.
There was even a group of individuals who held anti-Scientology demonstrations outside of multiple centers. These demonstrations brought out other protestors who thought Anonymous was anti-Scientology.
The court papers state that Guzner, "knowingly caused the transmission of information, codes and commands and as a result of such conduct, intentionally and without authorization caused damage by impairing the integrity and availability of data, a program, a system and information on a computer system that was used in interstate and foreign commerce and communications, specifically websites belonging to the Church of Scientology, thereby causing loss to one or more persons aggregating at least $5000 in value”.
The plea agreement made by Guzner and his attorneys states that the attacks cost the Church of Scientology an estimated $30,000 to $70,000 in damages.
Guzner had been investigated by the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force in Los Angeles, who worked closely with the FBI and other LA law enforcement agencies.