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Internet attack that went virtually unnoticed gets prison term

A 33-year-old Akron, Ohio, man just found out the hard way that you can get in serious trouble for an internet crime -- even if you weren't very good at it.

The self-styled hacker tried to disrupt several government websites, including the Department of Defense, the Department of the Treasure and NATO. He was so generally bad at it that the major security firms protecting those sites didn't know he existed until after his arrest. The only website he did manage to disrupt (a little) was the city of Akron's public website, particularly the part used by the city's police department.

The Akronite broadcast his crimes through a Twitter account, implying that he was a member of the activist-hacker group known collectively as Anonymous -- although there is no indication that he was working with others. His Twitter account wasn't as hard to trace as he apparently thought, because it took authorities only days to track him down after his only majorly successful DDoS attack on the city's website. He confessed to his actions, stating that he held a grudge against the city authorities and was sentenced to six years in prison and a $668,684 fine.

Some think the sentence was excessive, but it's an indicator of just how seriously authorities take internet crime. Another hacker recently received 10 years in prison for using DDoS attacks that caused problems for several hospitals. The operator of several DDoS booster services that facilitated such attacks got off relatively easily with a sentence of just over a year in prison.

These days, it's very easy to get yourself into serious trouble with a rash online act. It's a mistake to think that the government lacks the resources to track someone down over the web. If you've made a mistake and are facing federal charges for an internet crime, get help protecting your rights.

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