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Former Student Gets 30 Months For Political DDoS Attacks 486

Posted by Soulskill
from the distributed-denial-of-freedom-attack dept.
wiredmikey writes "A former University of Akron student was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for conducting denial of service attacks on the sites of several prominent conservative figures as well as infecting several systems with botnet software. Mitchell L. Frost, age 23, of Bellevue, Ohio admitted that between August 2006 and March 2007, he initiated denial of service attacks on web servers hosting the sites of political commentators, including Bill O'Reilly, Rudy Giuliani, Ann Coulter, and others."
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Former Student Gets 30 Months For Political DDoS Attacks

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  • As a rabid lefty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:15PM (#34149904) Journal

    Good. Don't justify their fears by acting like a thug.

    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:22PM (#34149950) Homepage Journal

      Good. Don't justify their fears by acting like a thug.

      That's two and a half years. Yes, he deserves to be punished, but it strikes me that he's not the one acting like a thug here, and I don't give a damn whether he's a rabid lefty, righty, or indy. If I heard that someone had gotten two and half years for taking down Reid'a, Pelosi's, and Michael Moore's sites, I still boggle in disbelief that someone got two and a half years.

      Seriously. Damn!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HangingChad (677530)
        How many right wingers have gone to jail for voter caging? Or voter intimidation? Talk about a double standard.
        • by abigsmurf (919188) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:41PM (#34150706)
          127 plus 80 who were given suspended sentences! I'm sure you don't need a citation because electoral fraud is so common place and all criminals are asked their political alligiences meaning that these stats are so easy to come across! How many left wingers have gone to jail for voter caging? Or voter intimidation? Talk about a double standard!

          So let me make this clear, you're not only outraged at this because you share the perpetrator's political views? You would be equally as outraged if the person jailed was a die hard republican? You would never exhibit such double standards as you would accuse other people of right?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sitarlo (792966)
          Yeah, those Black Panthers with clubs in front of the polling building were certainly right-wingers. The only double standard is that if a white cop arrested them for intimidating voters he'd be called the racist.
      • I was about to agree with you, then I read TFA. It looks like he did a bit more damage than said in the summary.
      • You can get less time for killing someone, depending on the circumstances. I seem to remember a police officer who shot a suspect in the back getting 2 years in prison. I don't recall whether he was convicted of murder or manslaughter or what, but still, that's less time for a DDoS against a few pundits.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sowelu (713889)
        Two and a half years doesn't sound too outrageous for me, depending on how he DDOSed them. That usually means wide-scale computer intrusion, which is a pretty massive crime. The "distributed" in DDOS means that you're going away for a while. He committed them over a pretty long stretch of time, so it's not like he said "oops I shouldn't have done that"...plus it means he'd kept control of hacked computers for a pretty darn long time. Not cool.
      • by causality (777677)

        Good. Don't justify their fears by acting like a thug.

        That's two and a half years. Yes, he deserves to be punished, but it strikes me that he's not the one acting like a thug here, and I don't give a damn whether he's a rabid lefty, righty, or indy. If I heard that someone had gotten two and half years for taking down Reid'a, Pelosi's, and Michael Moore's sites, I still boggle in disbelief that someone got two and a half years.

        Seriously. Damn!

        Independent of any damage that was or was not done, there are two big factors that work against him on that.

        One, he chose some high-profile targets. It's not precisely a secret that this gets the attention of authorities and that the legal system works a bit harder for such victims. The authorities were all over this one in a way they probably wouldn't have been if the same thing happened to you or me. It's not exactly comforting to think that this would be the case, but denial would be the only reaso

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:10PM (#34150410) Journal
        People fear hackers. The point isn't to compensate Reid, or Pelosi, or Ann Coulter, it's to stop people from doing this kind of thing. Based on your reaction, if every hacker reacted the way you are, then it's working. Certainly I would not be willing to do a DDOS of some site. No reasonable person would risk that kind of sentence for what is essentially a prank.

        Let's be honest here, this wasn't some guy who for lulz ran an exploit he found on a website. The guy went to the effort to build up a botnet and use it. He was working on this maliciousness for a long time. Two and a half years doesn't really sound that long, to me.

        Kevin Mitnick got five, and his crimes weren't malicious.
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:32PM (#34150028) Journal

      As another lefty, I agree in principle - some people are really assholes (Coulter would qualify for sure), but that doesn't mean that they do not have the right to demonstrate that to the world through unimpeded speech. Those who do not enjoy it have the freedom to not listen.

      That said, I wonder about the length of sentence. 30 months sounds way too much to me for this kind of crime. In fact, any prison term sounds harsh - unless I'm missing something about what he did, it looks like the kind of thing that is best punished by a hefty fine and some community service.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        I think 30 months is pretty standard for a DDOS attack. He was caught pretty quickly because his targets were high profile, but otherwise I don't think there is any miscarriage of justice here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It would be interesting to find any references to other similar cases (preferably not political so that the comparison doesn't devolve into fighting alongside the party lines).

          Still, 30 months for any DDoS - no matter the motive - sounds harsh to me, unless it's something that resulted in significant damages (e.g. taking down a high-volume payment processing site, or a hospital record system, or something like that).

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          30 months for DDOS attacks is unreasonable in comparison to less than 2 years with good behavior for shooting a handcuffed man in the back and killing him.

          http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/05/bart-cop-mehserle-ge.html [boingboing.net]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by abigsmurf (919188)
        There are three groups of victims:

        1: The person(s) whose site was taken down. This can have a massive financial implication from both the lost patronage and the costs to get the servers up and running.
        2: The people's whose systems were hijacked. This could be hundreds to hundreds of thousands of systems, all being used without permission and for a criminal act. Their service suffers, their ISP suffers too.
        3: Society as a whole. Performing criminal acts of people purely because of their political view
      • There is a great irony here in that Coulter has in the past used her freedom of speech to advocate charging anyone who speaks negatively of the war in Afganistan with 'providing aid and comfort to the enemy' and locking them in prison. She uses her freedom of speech to call for attacks on that very freedom... and, unless she wins, has every right to do so.
      • If the punishment were easy, parties on both sides wouldn't hesistate to use this tactic on a regular basis. They'd spend a night in jail, pick up some trash by the side of the highway, and then return to party HQ with a pat on the back and a hearty, "congratulations, you took your first pinch like a man". Thirty months in the pokey helps take that option away, although some hardcore operatives might still do it. In cases where the organization routinely funded it, you'd bring in RICO laws of course. It m

    • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:41PM (#34150124)

      Good. Don't justify their fears by acting like a thug.

      Indeed. Usually folks like him try to accomplish the same thing by calling it "hate speech" or the old standby "racism" and seeking to have it censored. Remember how many people have been called "racist" for disagreeing with Obama's politics? Regarding censorship, it's pretty hard to get the government to do that in the USA, so instead they put pressure on the sponsors of a site or of a broadcast to try and make that happen. That's still underhanded as hell but perhaps not quite thuggish.

      Of course if folks like him want to really show how non-thug they are, they could always explain why their viewpoint is superior using old antiquated things like facts and reasoning. That's something thugs and criminals are not known for doing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)

        Remember how many people have been called "racist" for disagreeing with Obama's politics?

        Approximately zero? Who are you referring to?

  • Jesus! 30 months!!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KingSkippus (799657) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:19PM (#34149928) Homepage Journal

    That's seriously warped. Yes, what he did was wrong, but it's not like he permanently shut down the Internet.

    30 months? Two and a half years? Damn, he should have just raped someone instead, he probably would have gotten less time and had a lot more fun in the process. I swear, I'm going to start voting against any politician that runs on being "tough on crime." It seems plenty tough enough as it is.

    Two and a half years of someone's life, that's the price we demand now for some minor inconvenience? Damn, if I were his lawyer, I'd be tempted to appeal that for violation of the Eighth Amendment.

    • by droopus (33472) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:33PM (#34150044)

      Yeah. I saw guys in the feds who were doing 20 years because someone else committed a crime and they knew about it. I know a limo driver now at Elkton who picked up a fare at JFK, the DEA pulled them over and found the fare's bags stuffed with cocaine and meth. The driver knew nothing about it, denied all knowledge, and went to trial with a public defender. He got 37 years and lost his appeal, and does not have the money for collateral attack. Did you know that after one appeal, you must now use civil remedies, like 28USC 2241 and 2255, and you are NOT entitled to counsel for them?

      I did five years for what most would call, at best, a silly prank that hurt no one and caused neither property or financial loss.

      • by snl2587 (1177409)
        I'm really curious (and I'm sure others reading this are as well): what did you do to get 5 years without causing any damage?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by slashqwerty (1099091)
          droopus has been commenting on his prison sentence for some time. He won't fess up to exactly what he did but from previous posts it appears he blew up some federal property with explosives. Whatever the case there is one thing you can count on, he will not tell you the whole story.
      • I know a limo driver now at Elkton who picked up a fare at JFK, the DEA pulled them over and found the fare's bags stuffed with cocaine and meth. The driver knew nothing about it, denied all knowledge, and went to trial with a public defender. He got 37 years and lost his appeal, and does not have the money for collateral attack.

        This one sounds a little bit hard to believe. Are you sure you were told *both* sides of the case?

      • Lengthy prison sentences are a product of, not only politicians and the War on Crime, but corporate ownership of jails. There is a financial and electoral incentive for putting people in jail. The growth of the prison population has grown dramatically in the last 50 years as a result of the commercialization of the penal system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      Let's be honest, this isn't something someone is going to do on accident. You're not going to set up a botnet and DDOS a major website by running Limewire in the background.

      This guy here was purposely trying to hurt someone. He deserves to sit in jail, and take some time to reassess his life. Two years isn't really that long.
  • by tsa (15680)

    Is the punishment comparable to what other people convicted of the same crime get?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by droopus (33472) *

      According to 18 USC 3553 [goo.gl] the judge MUST consider the issue of disparate punishment. So the judge does. And does what he/she wants anyway.

      It's a HUGE business, the prison industry, and it needs a steady flow of bodies, which it easily gets.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      No. I could stab someone 5 times and not kill them, and get a less harsh sentence.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:21PM (#34149942)

    Meanwhile, Johannes Mehserle, a former BART police officer, shoots and kills an unarmed, restrained man while in custody in view of numerous eyewitnesses, and gets two years in prison minus time already served. Even if we take the defense's word on the matter and accept that it was completely accidental, does it really make sense to punish one person so much more severely for a crime that did not result in anyone's death?

    Yes, I am well aware that in the US, those in positions of power--whether through political or financial means--are treated with leniency, and the unwashed masses suffer.

    • This isn't exactly off topic. The parent is comparing sentences of two acts of crime, one of which resulted in death. If that's offtopic in the comments for an article about one of said acts of crime, I really want to know the mod's idea of being on topic.
      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        Because it's utterly inane?

        It's like the classic newspaper hit pieces of the type "Obama smiles whilst people lose their jobs!". Obama did indeed smile and whilst he did that some people probably lose their jobs at the same time but that doesn't mean the events are connected or that the headline isn't insanely unfair and stupid.

        Every case is difference, different crimes have different levels of culpability even if the outcome is worse (otherwise you'd hand out life sentences to every driver who killed
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:54PM (#34150258)

      Here's how it works. There are three classes of people in American society. The first class is the people who run the large institutions: the politicians in government, and the executives of corporations. The second class is the people who protect these institutions: police, lawyers, the media, etc. The third class is everyone else. To calculate a criminal sentence, just use the following formula:

      adjusted sentence = original sentence * 10^(class of perpetrator - class of victim)

      If you kill someone of your own class, you might get 20 years in prison. But since the BART cop was in the second class, while Grant was in the third, this was dropped down to 2 years. Here, it's the reverse: the student targeted conservative pundits (second class) so instead of 3 months he gets 30.

      • Here's how it works. There are three classes of people in American society. The first class is the people who run the large institutions: the politicians in government, and the executives of corporations. The second class is the people who protect these institutions: police, lawyers, the media, etc. The third class is everyone else. To calculate a criminal sentence, just use the following formula:

        adjusted sentence = original sentence * 10^(class of perpetrator - class of victim)

        If you kill someone of your own class, you might get 20 years in prison. But since the BART cop was in the second class, while Grant was in the third, this was dropped down to 2 years. Here, it's the reverse: the student targeted conservative pundits (second class) so instead of 3 months he gets 30.

        I wish I could put this on a billboard in every major city.

  • Freedom is speech is for all Americans - not just for the ones I or you agree with. Unfortunately, many sanctimonious politicians and college students don't believe in that as displayed by this student. Akron U is just down the road from me, hope this is not the education their spooning out.

  • This is strange... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by droopus (33472) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:28PM (#34149998)

    He allegedly "admitted" to what looks like ten counts or more, but since his special assessement was $200, he was only convicted of a single felony count. So, then, why ever would he have admitted anything else? That would be allocution, relevant conduct and further admitted behavior. When I plead out in February 2007, I admitted guilt on one count and all others were dismissed. I denied them (they were indeed false) and no one admits other behavior and gets done for one count.

    According to the sentencing table, [goo.gl] assuming this is his first offense, his offense was Level 22. He got a standard three-point reduction for admission of guilt and the judge gave him the low end of Level 19. He will do 87.5% of it, (no parole in feds) a little more than 26 months. He'll go to halfway house in 23.

    But he will not go to a Camp. His relevant conduct will affect his custody, and he will probably go to a Low (basically a Medium with cubicles instead of cells), perhaps even FCI Elkton in Ohio where I was. Not fun.

    My suspicion is whether he really admitted all those other counts, or this is journalistic excess.

    • He allegedly "admitted" to what looks like ten counts or more, but since his special assessement was $200, he was only convicted of a single felony count. So, then, why ever would he have admitted anything else? That would be allocution, relevant conduct and further admitted behavior. When I plead out in February 2007, I admitted guilt on one count and all others were dismissed. I denied them (they were indeed false) and no one admits other behavior and gets done for one count.

      According to the sentencing table, [goo.gl] assuming this is his first offense, his offense was Level 22. He got a standard three-point reduction for admission of guilt and the judge gave him the low end of Level 19. He will do 87.5% of it, (no parole in feds) a little more than 26 months. He'll go to halfway house in 23.

      But he will not go to a Camp. His relevant conduct will affect his custody, and he will probably go to a Low (basically a Medium with cubicles instead of cells), perhaps even FCI Elkton in Ohio where I was. Not fun.

      My suspicion is whether he really admitted all those other counts, or this is journalistic excess.

      Sorry, link is http://goo.gl/CoIcB [goo.gl]

    • by crankyspice (63953) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:15PM (#34150932)

      You know, you can look it up in PACER... ;) It's northern district of Ohio, case no. 10-cr-00216. He plead guilty to "counts 1 and 2" of the information (which I can't load, it's restricted).

      This is from the *defense* counsel's sentencing brief: "Mitchell Frost . . . knowingly transmitted computer programs, codes, commands, and information which caused an interruption and otherwise disruption of vulnerable internet web sites, obtain passwords, account information, and other identifying information, causing a loss in excess of $5000.00. Through the use of mal-ware, Mitchell Frost also during this time knowingly possessed 15 or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices, including 136 credit card accounts, PINs, and security codes, and close to 3000 user names and passwords for various computer systems or networks."

      He got self-surrender, which suggests to me he may get a camp; he's serving less than 120 months, didn't get convicted of fraud involving telephones, and is otherwise not a security risk (deportable alien, etc)...

  • If he would have gotten less or even nothing when he would have chosen another side of the political spectrum - if there is such a thing on US news media?
    • If he would have gotten less or even nothing when he would have chosen another side of the political spectrum - if there is such a thing on US news media?

      MSNBC and Comedy Central tend to lean left of center. It's odd that people would make these types of remarks about political motivations when the left is currently in power. Who, exactly, is subverting the process now? Obama? Reid?

  • by Chas (5144) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:41PM (#34150128) Homepage Journal

    Because NOTHING says "fair and open discourse" like blowing people whose opinions you dislike off the net in a great gale of "Shut The Fuck Up".

    I'm not saying I agree with some of these people he DOS'ed, hell, some of them I dislike INTENSELY. But these are the actions of someone who has so little confidence in their own point of view that they have to try and make sure theirs is the ONLY one available.

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