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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Euro Hackers Shut Down Competitor Web Site

LOS ANGELES (CN) - In the first instance of a commercial cyber attack, two European hackers were able to shut down a U.S. communication company's Web site and disrupt its business for two weeks, say federal prosecutors.

The two men launched the attack on a U.S.-based companies after they were hired by Orbit Communications Corporation in 2003 to disrupt the company's competitors, shutting down one company for two weeks and both lost at least $200,000 in revenue, the government alleges in a recent indictment.

"This is the first DDOS attack that's been used in the context of commerce, where one company wanted to take out the websites of other companies" says Erik Silber, the Assistant U.S. Attorney leading the prosecution.

Under the charges, Englishman Graham Walker and Axel Gambe, German, launched a large-scale distributed denial of service attack on Miami-based Rapid Satellite and Los Angeles-based Weaknees, crashing the websites of the two retail satellite companies.

A DDOS attack involves numerous hijacked computers accessing and overwhelming a Web site.

In a related case in 2004, Jay Echouafni, the former owner of Massachusetts-based Orbit, was charged and Paul Ashley pleaded guilty to orchestrating the attacks after Echouafni instructed Ashley, his business associate, to disrupt the websites of Weaknees and Rapid Satellite. Ashley then hired Gambe and Walker to do the job.

Ashley has already served two years in prison. Echouafni fled the U.S. and is sought by the FBI.

Gambe and Walker are each charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of intentionally damaging a computer system.

If convicted, Walker and Gambe each face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

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