Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 12:10 UK

Europeans sought over hack attack

Computer keyboard, Eyewire
The two men being sought carried out the attacks in 2003

The FBI is seeking two Europeans alleged to have been involved in attacks on web retailers.

Briton Lee Graham Walker and Axel Gembe of Germany are being sought in connection with attacks on two sellers of satellite TV equipment.

The FBI said the pair carried out so-called Denial of Service attacks that knocked the web shops offline.

If convicted the men face a maximum 15-year jail sentence. Both men are believed to be still at large.

Attack plan

In the federal indictment Mr Walker of Bleys Bolton, England and Mr Gembe were accused of "one count of conspiracy and one count of intentionally damaging a computer system".

The indictment is connected to another case in which two men, Jay Echouafni and Paul Ashley, were charged with conspiracy for the same attack.

The FBI alleges that Mr Walker and Mr Gembe were the technical masterminds that helped knock the web shops of Mr Echouafni's rival offline.

The indictment claims that Mr Walker ran the network of hijacked home computers, or botnet, that bombarded the web shops with bogus data in a bid to overwhelm them. The machines were hijacked with the aid of a virus, called Agobot, that Mr Gembe created.

Mr Gembe was tried for the creation of Agobot in Germany in 2004 and received a probationary sentence.

The attacks targeted two shops that sell digital video recorders and TV satellite equipment: Miami-based Rapid Satellite and Los Angeles-based Weaknees.

In October 2003, the companies' websites were forced offline for a fortnight, and recovery from the attacks cost one of the shops $200,000.

Mr Ashley has pleaded guilty and served two years in prison for his crimes. The FBI said Mr Echouafni is a fugitive that is being actively sought.

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