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“When you have a persistent attacker going after a single site, the organizations have to spend a lot of time and effort handling it. There are also often effects on other systems besides the website,” said the special agent who investigated the case out of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office.

This hacker was a “hacktivist” who liked to brag about his work, helping investigators quickly find him. James Robinson, then 32, posted screenshots of the sites he’d taken down and of the tools he had used. When questioned by investigators, Robinson admitted to these attacks and to several previous DDOS attacks on more prominent websites, such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Treasury.

Robinson told investigators he had grudges against the city’s police department. He was also involved in a hacking group and participated in hacks directed by that group.

“He was very vocal about what he was doing. He wanted to bring attention to his opinions,” the agent said of the hacktivist.

With the availability of “stressor” sites online that will cheaply conduct a DDOS attack on your behalf, Robinson didn’t require any special technical skills to take down these sites. He was adept at using these tools.

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