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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 03:40 GMT
'Mafiaboy' pleads guilty to hacking

Several popular websites were shut down
A 16-year-old boy in Canada has pleaded guilty to charges of criminal mischief in connection with a series of attacks on several popular websites last February.

The teenager, who is only known by his internet name, Mafiaboy, was released pending sentencing by a judge in Montreal.

He faces up to two years in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Mafiaboy originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, and was expected to have to endure a complex trial lasting up to six months.

But he changed his plea on most of the 66 charges.

Boast

The boy was tracked to a home in Montreal by the FBI and arrested last April, several weeks after popular sites operated by CNN, Yahoo and Amazon were shut down by large amounts of junk information.

He was detained after boasting of his exploits on internet discussion sites.

In response, the Clinton administration in the US called a meeting of business leaders and technology experts to discuss ways of improving security on the internet.

The February assault, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue, shook the e-commerce industry because of the apparent ease with which major sites were made inaccessible.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police said losses were estimated at many hundred of millions of US dollars.

It was reported that Mafiaboy had said online that the sabotage attacks were to put a "scare" into internet shareholders.

Hacker left a trace

FBI spokesman William Lynn told a news conference that the hacking attacks had been traced to a computer at the University of California, Santa Barbara (USCB), a router at Stanford University and a home business computer in the area of Portland, Oregon.

Dozens, possibly hundreds, of middlemen computers were used.

US television news network ABC said investigators were allegedly able to trace the attacks on CNN.com to Mafiaboy by examining the log files of the USCB computer.

He electronically broke into the UCSB computer on 8 February and instructed it to send large amounts of traffic to CNN.com's web site, ABC quoted campus network programmer Kevin Schmidt as saying.

ABC said the FBI had obtained chat room logs allegedly showing that Mafiaboy had asked others what sites he should take down before they were attacked.

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See also:

16 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Special report: The web under attack
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Unweaving the world wide web
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Cracking: Hackers turn nasty
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07 Jan 00 | Americas
US crackdown on cyber-terrorism
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