Florida man charged in botnet attack on Akamai

Prosecutors allege he used an e-mail worm to create a network of hijacked PCs that swamped the victim's servers.

A Florida man has been charged with launching a distributed denial-of-service attack against servers run by Akamai Technologies.

A federal court in Boston on Tuesday heard charges that 32-year-old John Bombard of Seminole used a variant of the Gaobot e-mail worm to turn computers--including systems at two universities whose names have not been disclosed--into an arsenal of "zombies" or "bots" that he could control remotely.

He then used this network of hijacked computers, known as a "botnet," to send a massive amount of traffic to the domain name system (DNS) servers of the Global Traffic Management division of Akamai, prosecutors alleged. Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai provides caching services for Web sites belonging to big-name companies like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Apple Computers, among others.

This distributed denial-of-service attack, launched June 15, 2004, rendered many of Akamai's clients' Web sites temporarily inaccessible, according to the charges.

The charges of hacking, or "intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization," carry potential penalties of up to two years' imprisonment and a $200,000 fine.

The case comes as botnet controllers are using increasingly sophisticated tactics. Major arrests were made over the summer, but attackers have kept up by writing

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