Wisconsin trucker strikes plea deal in cyberattack

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 9/17/2013

A trucker from Wisconsin admitted in federal court that he participated in an attack that took out the website of Wichita-based Koch Industries for about 15 minutes.

Eric J. Rosol, 37, of Black Creek, Wis., pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of accessing a protected computer, as part of a plea agreement reached Sept. 11. A grand jury had charged him with conspiracy. Rosol is to date the only person to be charged in the attack, which was organized by the computer hacking group known as Anonymous, according to Rosol’s indictment filed in U.S. District Court of Kansas.

The indictment states that beginning in February of 2011, Anonymous began to advertise a “Dedicated Denial of Service Attack” (DDOS) on Koch Industries, and its websites “Kochind.com,” “quiltednorthern.com,” and “angelsoft.com.”

A DDOS attack sends a high volume of repeated requests to the targeted website or websites, which cause the target to become so saturated with requests it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable.

According to the plea agreement, the defendant admitted that on Feb. 28, 2011, he participated for about one minute in the DDOS attack on the web server for Kochind.com.

Both parties have stipulated the actual losses from the attack are less than $5,000. But Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the U.S., is also expected to argue that an additional expense of $183,000 paid to a consulting group to protect its’ websites from attack should be included in Rosol’s restitution payments. A sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 2 in U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren’s court.

In addition to possible restitution, Rosol faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. As part of the plea deal, he has also agreed to forfeit the computer used in the attack, as well as to have no contact with the victim or the associated websites.

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