Threat Management, Network Security, Network Security

Church of Scientology website hacker charged

Updated on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 10:18 a.m. EST

A New Jersey man has been charged for his role in the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against the Church of Scientology website in January.

Dmitriy Guzner, 18, of Verona, N.J. faces up to 10 years in prison for his role in the crime and is expected to plead guilty in federal court, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Guzner pleaded guilty for his role in the crime and agreed to pay $37,500 in restitution.

DDoS attack is launched by sending a large amount of traffic to a website or group of websites. As a result, the Scientology site was knocked offline because it could not handle the large volume of traffic. The website shutdown caused monetary losses of at least $5,000, according to court records.

In this case, researchers detected 488 DDoS attacks against the church, with an average size of 15,000 packets per second. To mitigate the problem, the church was hosted by Prolexic Technologies, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based provider of DDoS mitigation solutions, reported in January.

Guzner was part of the underground group called Anonymous, which protests against the Church of Scientology. 

Anonymous said earlier this year that it would attempt to bring down the church after the church tried to claim copyright infringement over the spread of edited clips from a 2004 promotional video featuring actor and well-known Scientologist Tom Cruise.

The approximately 10-minute video, set to the music of the “Mission: Impossible” soundtrack, features Cruise lauding the church. He said at one point: "Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it's not like anyone else; as you drive past, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you're the only one that can really help."

The hacker group also accused the church of filtering anti-Scientology comments made about the video, which was posted on YouTube and Digg, among other places.

Anonymous has been responsible for some 3.6 million harassing emails, 41 death threats and 56 bomb and arson threats against the church since January, the church said in a statement.

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