‘Mafiaboy’ Denies New Hacking Charges

Mafiaboy, the 16 year-old Montreal teenager who Canadian police say unleashed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on major Web sites earlier this year, was back in court Thursday to face 64 new charges related to his alleged cyber mischief.

The teen, who cannot be named under the Canadian Young Offenders Act, appeared briefly in youth court and pleaded not guilty to the new charges. If convicted, he faces two years in a youth detention center.

After authorities charged Mafiaboy with two counts of mischief for attacks on CNN.com in April, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered evidence linking him to DoS attacks on Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Dell, and Outlawnet.com. A DoS attack floods the targeted site with traffic and renders it inaccessible to legitimate users.

Ten of the new charges levied against the teen are for mischief against the five Web sites. The majority of the remaining charges are for hacking into computer systems operating primarily at U.S. universities, reportedly including Harvard and Yale.

Banned from Computers

The teen has also been charged with breaking conditions of bail. Under the terms of the boy’s release in April, he is forbidden from using a computer except while at school and under the supervision of a teacher. He is also not allowed to connect to the Web, and cannot go into stores that lease or sell computers.

According to published reports, Quebec prosecutor Louis Miville-Deschenes said “the evidence that had to be sifted through was overwhelming. There is direct evidence placing him behind the computer.” He added that the teen evidently bragged about his exploits in Internet chat rooms.

The RCMP and prosecutors have said that the investigation is complete and they do not anticipate filing additional charges.

Not Overwhelmed

Yan Romanowski, the boy’s defense attorney, was quoted in the Canadian Press as saying the boy understands the serious nature of the charges but is not feeling overwhelmed.

Romanowski reportedly said, “Under the circumstances, he’s relatively calm; he’s not panicking. It’s not a happy moment in his life. He’s just anxious that this whole thing be behind him.”

Mafiaboy goes back to court on September 28th, when the judge will set a trial date.

Loss of Confidence

This year’s spew of hack attacks and viruses have cost companies millions of dollars (US$) and has shaken consumer confidence in online shopping. Results of a poll by @plan, released one month after the attacks, indicated that the recent hacker assaults “severely damaged consumer confidence in the Internet.”

The data shows that almost 40 percent of American Internet shoppers age 18 and older were less likely to make an online purchase in the future and that nearly 47 percent of those who had not shopped online in the previous three months would not be likely to start.

A study released earlier this month by Information Week Research reported that hacker attacks cost the world economy a whopping $1.6 trillion this year. The most costly culprit in terms of total dollar value is the virus.

The so-called Love Bug virus, proliferated by e-mail earlier this year, caused an estimated $2.61 billion in damage.

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