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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:15PM (#34149902)

    Obviously, freedom of speech isn't something this little douchenozzle cares about. Like legions of leftards before him, he's perfectly happy breaking the law to try to gag people he doesn't agree with.

    Thirty months isn't enough.

  • 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 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.

  • 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!

  • by MrHyd3 (19709) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:24PM (#34149968) Homepage

    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.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:30PM (#34150010) Homepage
    How many right wingers have gone to jail for voter caging? Or voter intimidation? Talk about a double standard.
  • 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 NiceGeek (126629) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:34PM (#34150050)

    Of course right-wingers *NEVER* do anything like this. Newsflash: Some people are assholes, and some just hide behind AC status.

  • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:36PM (#34150074)

    "protected free speech"

    I find it odd how the constitution seems to mention nothing about unprotected speech and yet people act as if this is normal. Actually, no, that's not odd. That's just the ancient tradition of government corruption kicking in.

  • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:38PM (#34150098)
    I'm curious as to what sort of sentence you would get for cutting off someone's power or whatever comm line they use (be it coaxial, fiber, telephone, etc.). If I cut your server's link to the web, would I get off easier than attempting to saturate that link?
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:46PM (#34150192)

    If it were a NON-POLITICAL DOS/bot attack, would anyone on Slashdot give a rat's ass if he went down for MORE than thirty months?

    Ignore the political aspect, and he's just a vandal.

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:47PM (#34150200) Journal

    Seriously, how is thirty months about right?

    Tally up the financial losses that he inflicted on the attacked sites, their providers, the providers in-between and the computers that he pwned to carry out the attacks. It will likely be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Now look at what you would be sentenced to for causing that much damage through a more conventional crime, such as vandalism or theft. I suspect you'll find that the punishment is very similar.

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:48PM (#34150214) Journal

    Coulter isn't an asshole, she's a fucking cunt. In fact if you look up the defintion of "cunt" in Websters I suspect you'll find her picture.

    I say this as someone that leans to the right and even occasionally agrees with her.

  • by jmottram08 (1886654) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @07:54PM (#34150260)
    "a bit of thought?"

    Are you serious? Free speech allows him to write his own website, it doesn't allow him to break theirs. Whether or not actual damages were inflicted is a different issue, much like "Attempted Murder" is just as much a crime as "Murder". The difference is in the punishment.

    It pains me to see people honestly think that limiting other peoples speech is protected as free speech.

    The above is not a subtle point at all. "sit ins" are by and large not legal at all. Think Abortion center protests. You can protest them, but you can't be a public disturbance, you can't be on their property, and you can't block people from access to the clinic. This is just what he did, he (attempted a) block of the websites, because he didn't agree with them. Instead of using his right to free speech to debate them, he decided to put his political feelings above others rights (free speech, right to assemble(people reading the sites), etc...)

    Does the punishment fit the crime? maybe, maybe not, but this wasn't a protest, this wasn't a comment on some forum, This was a premeditated multivector attack on both the rights and the property of others. Just because he failed at it, or did it with a computer doesn't make it less wrong or illegal.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:02PM (#34150332) Journal

    Two wrongs don't make a right. Any right-winger using a DDOS attack on liberal sites should do time, too.

    -jcr

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:04PM (#34150354) Journal

    Where's the line between a DDoS against a political site and "protected free speech"?

    I'd say the line is the use of other people's property without their consent. This is the same issue as spamming. His right to express himself doesn't include a right to use anyone else's property to do so.

    -jcr

  • by droopus (33472) * on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:08PM (#34150394)

    I suppose it's possible, but one's morals get strained when the choice is 30 months versus 35 years. Counts are cumulative in feds, so go down the table twenty levels and tell me about "facing punishment for your actions." Shouldn't that punishment be just and fair?

  • 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 weston (16146) <westonsd.canncentral@org> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:33PM (#34150628) Homepage

    If it were a NON-POLITICAL DOS/bot attack, would anyone on Slashdot give a rat's ass if he went down for MORE than thirty months?

    Yeah, since manslaughter doesn't get you more than two years [sfweekly.com] these days.* And a hit and run [vaildaily.com] might not even be something a DA wants to pursue vigorously. **

    But you wanna see the system freak out? Show the people with money and clout that the system has holes, that there are people who can do things with technology that they don't understand.

    OK, it's really not just a tech thing. Both our statutory punishments and our sentencing is messed up in this country. Unfortunately, it's in no small part because we're quite simply very very stupid about the issue politically: we like to vote for people who are "tough on crime," so I don't expect a lot of change.

    * May not apply if you're not a police officer.
    ** May not apply if you're not wealthy.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:36PM (#34150654) Journal

    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).

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:39PM (#34150684)

    This isn't physics, it's law.

    Yes. A man who was already restrained and presented no threat was shot and killed.

    The law should be asking one question: if a police officer has restrained a suspect and that suspect no longer presents any threat to the officer's safety, why was the officer's hand anywhere near his gun? Why was that gun not in its holster with the safety on? If that does not indicate intent to murder the suspect, then what would? Are we to believe that a trained police officer who is regularly evaluated on marksmanship does not understand the basic gun safety rules known to any redneck? At some point the whole idea that this was an "accident" loses all credibility. I find it much easier to believe that cops simply have an easier time getting away with murder.

  • 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?
  • by sitarlo (792966) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:43PM (#34150720)
    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.
  • by gnapster (1401889) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @08:53PM (#34150782)

    Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech...

    As far as I can see, the Bill of Rights [archives.gov] adds no qualifiers to speech. Am I missing something?

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:23PM (#34150980) Journal
    Burglary is 5, 10, or 15 years in Florida. The maximum sentence for robbery is life, at least in the UK. So what? I am interested in what a good sentence is for a malicious DDOS attack, not whether other parts of the law are good or bad.

    As far as I can tell, a two year sentence is definitely putting fear into the hearts of people on this website, so goal accomplished.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:26PM (#34151008) Journal
    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 Nazlfrag (1035012) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:09PM (#34151216) Journal

    Civil disobedience is one thing, vandalism another. No-one should have the right to ddos another.

  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:11PM (#34151230) Journal
    a DDoS is not speech any more than a punch to the face is speech, you are not sayin or expressing anything, you are using an automated means to disable computer systems and or networks

    it's not a subtle point at all,
  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:38PM (#34151346) Journal

    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 might be possible to RICO some community org, or even a labor union. Prosecuting a major party under RICO? Let's not go there.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:51PM (#34151444)

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

    Approximately zero? Who are you referring to?

  • by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:57PM (#34151472) Homepage

    See also Republicans, and Teabaggers responses to their own being raging assholes.

    Ok Nancy, we get it. You're upset you lost the house. Now quit calling people teabaggers and assholes.

  • by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:03PM (#34151504) Homepage

    I'm curious as to what sort of sentence you would get for cutting off someone's power or whatever comm line they use (be it coaxial, fiber, telephone, etc.). If I cut your server's link to the web, would I get off easier than attempting to saturate that link?

    It's not quite the same as severing a phone line verses saturating a link. It's more like hijacking thousands of other people's phones and programming them to constantly dial and redial someone's phone number so they can never pick up and get a dialtone. ...and it would really suck if they were having a heart attack and needed to call 911...

  • by LearnToSpell (694184) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:04PM (#34151506) Homepage
    Please god, if you are good, let me not die in a fire in a portable toilet.
  • by Chas (5144) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:41AM (#34151950) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I don't necessarily know that the sentence was "excessive".

    Frost admitted using the compromised machines to spread malware and harvest data from the compromised systems, including user names, passwords, credit card numbers, and CVV security codes, and for the purpose of launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on computer systems and Internet websites.

    Some people might simply sniff and look the other way for "unauthorized access". But the minute you bring "stealing credit cards numbers" into it, hackles rise faster than a septugenarian OD'ing on Viagra.

    And contrary to myth, counteracting the effects of a DDoS attacks is not a cost-free proposition. It's work and people need to be paid for it. Just as the affected providers need to be compensated for the wasted bandwidth.

    The former student also admitted initiating denial of service attacks against University of Akron computer servers on or about March 14, 2007, which caused the entire University of Akron computer network to be knocked off-line for approximately 8-1/2 hours, preventing all students, faculty and staff members from accessing the network. The University claimed that response and remediation efforts to restore network services cost over $10,000.

    I'm familiar with similar cases. And his sentence is more or less in-line with the severity of his transgressions.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:11AM (#34152050) Journal

    No. This punk is nothing more than a digital brownshirt, trying to silence those who he disagrees with.

    Sorry, but silencing others is NOT protected as free speech.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:14AM (#34152060) Journal

    I would go a bit further...

    His right to express himself doesn't include a right to silence others.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:20AM (#34152078)

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

    No, I don't remember that. Please feel free to provide some credible examples.

  • by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @02:20AM (#34152310)

    Unless its a filibuster DDOS attack - those are ok.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @02:41AM (#34152378)

    > Where's the line between a DDoS against a political site and "protected free speech"?

    same place as the line inbetween saying I don't like your new windows and hurling a brick through them.

  • by phoenix321 (734987) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @04:00AM (#34152650)

    Sit-ins are extensively used today all over the world, but curiously almost exclusively by the "left" of the respective country.

    But the fact that they are so heavily used everywhere by people who proclaim themselves to be people's or peace activists doesn't exactly make it any more peaceful or respectable.

    Sit-ins are peaceful only in a way that it doesn't punch people in the face. Other than that, they're more often than not illegal, that is, trampling someones right to move or use their property, not only the owner of the place they're sitting-in on, but also all the people around them.

    In my opinion, it is a key trademark of the political left of any country in the Western hemisphere: they regard their goals as so important and their mind as so pure, that they habitually see themselves in any case above all their political opponents and their interests and opinions - but usually also above issues like the law, that is more often than not regarded as "protecting the enemy" instead of protecting everyone's freedom. It is this mindset that results in seeing all (their own) actions as "peaceful" as long as no one is punched to the face, no matter what other laws and freedoms they may have crossed. On the other hand, the Left - here in Europe - are the political faction most likely to commit violence, if that is of course "justified" in their own opinions.

    Athens: have the lowest pension age of the entire western world, the most state officials per inhabitant and for many industries ridiculously low income taxes. Have the state increase the pension age, riot for months, destroy billions in infrastructure, send package bombs to everywhere in Europe
    France: work in a factory, if 20% of employees must be let off in the worldwide crisis, kidnap and/or murder the boss that is still providing a job and income to the remaining 80%.
    Germany: prevent any conservative or right-leaning party from ever be able to hold a congress, demonstration or election campaign, no matter what constitution and laws say about it. Beat people from conservative and right-wing parties (see ProKöln and others) to a pulp. People of conservative and right-wing opinions brought it on themselves, right?

  • by ffreeloader (1105115) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @04:13AM (#34152666) Journal

    Well, then you should realize that there are more elements in parallel than what you listed. Add also all the anti-religion and anti-God rhetoric and the "reason is all we need" kind of logic that is also prevalent today. Then look at the outcome. After the mob slaughtered all their bosses they turned on each other and slaughtered each other because each of the factions in the mob thought the other factions weren't politically correct.

    History shows us that if we fail to learn from it we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes today that others in the same political/emotional environment made in the past. Take a look around you and see how often those who claim reason is everything and that religion is stupidity degenerate into nothing more than emotional rantings against those who disagree with them and those in charge of the government. The climate today is the same as it was back then, and it was the "smart" people in the French revolution that were the cruelest and most inhumane to their fellow man. They were the people who slaughtered anyone who disagreed with them....

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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