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Attacks/Breaches

Kiss Off: Anonymous Hacker Took On Gene Simmons, Feds Say

Feds bust alleged member of Anonymous for launching an "Operation Payback" attack against website of Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.

Federal authorities Tuesday announced the arrest of Kevin George Poe, 24, of Manchester, Conn., on charges that he spearheaded a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against a website over a five-day period in 2010.

Notably, the attack was launched against the website of Gene Simmons, the vocalist and bassist for the hard-rock group Kiss--which he founded in the 1970s--and more recently star of the reality television show "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels".

Authorities said Poe, who used the handle "spydr101," was arrested Tuesday "without incident at the federal courthouse" on charges of conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. He appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., and was ordered released the same day on a $10,000 bond. He's due to appear in federal court in Los Angeles at a future, yet-to-be-determined date, and faces up to 15 years in prison.

[ Check out the 8 Most Notorious Cybercrime Busts Of 2011. ]

In addition to the charges mentioned, an indictment returned last week by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles accused Poe of being a member of the Anonymous hacktivist collective. Simmons apparently drew the ire of the Anonymous set after he lambasted their peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading proclivities during a 2010 MIPCOM entertainment content media conference panel discussion, where he lamented the failure of the music industry "to sue every fresh-faced, freckle-faced college kid who downloaded material."

"Make sure your brand is protected," Simmons said. "Make sure there are no incursions. Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars. Don't let anybody cross that line."

According to the indictment, Poe used a favorite Anonymous tool--the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), which generates DDoS attacks--to attack Simmons's website.

While LOIC was launched by press-savvy Anonymous members with great fanfare, many of its users have ended up in jail. Notably, many failed to realize that the tool would add their IP address into the packets they generated, which were then directed at target websites. In numerous cases, attacked sites--including PayPal--collected those IP addresses, then shared them with authorities. As a result, the FBI has been able to trace back the attacks to the people who launched them; multiple arrests have ensued.

Likewise, authorities said they found an IP trail that led them back to Poe. “We performed a forensic evaluation of the website servers, and we were able to obtain an IP address that led us directly to Mr. Poe. The IP address, coupled with additional information obtained during the FBI’s investigation, resulted in the indictment," said Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, in an interview.

But he noted that the investigation had taken time, suggesting that Poe may have taken steps to hide his tracks. "There was a significant amount of forensic work involved. We are dealing with a group that is quite sophisticated and will take efforts to conceal their identity," he said.

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