N.Y. Webmaster Arrested for Cyber Attack on Former Employer

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Christopher Gardner, a British citizen living in New York, was recently arrested by the FBI and charged with breaching his former employer, the newspaper publisher Dan's Papers, and disabling the company's Web site.

According to the complaint [PDF file], a Dan's Papers employee contacted the FBI in mid-December and stated that an unknown individual had accessed Dan Papers' Web site's FTP server and altered its robots.txt file to remove the site from search results.

As a result of the change, the employee said, Dan's Papers had suffered significant revenue losses from advertising.

The FBI traced the FTP access back to a customer of the ISP Optimum Online, which provided the FBI with subscriber information indicating that the user involved was Christopher Gardner.

The FBI also obtained data from Google and Verizon indicating that Gardner had more recently been logging into his Gmail address from a Verizon account, having previously logged into the same address via the Optimum Online account that was used to access Dan's Papers' FTP server.

Gardner was employed at Dan's Papers from mid-2011 to mid-2012 as a Web administrator and webmaster. According to the employee who contacted the FBI, Gardner knew the login user name and password for the company's FTP server, which hadn't been changed after Gardner's termination in mid-2012.

If convicted, Gardner faces up to 10 years in prison.