By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
11th June 2008
A 21-year-old American has admitted to using a potent botarmy to wage a
relentless campaign of destruction on two volunteer websites as part of
a scheme to punish the operators for behavior he thought was unfair.
Gregory C. King, of Fairfield, California, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two
felony counts of transmitting code to cause damage to protected
computers. King, an irascible hacker who used monikers including Silenz,
SilenZ420 and Gregk707, faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison
and a fine of $500,000, although his plea agreement calls for him to
spend two years behind bars and pay restitution to his victims.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 3.
King's distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on CastleCops 
and KillaNet Technologies  were so potent that the sites and their
service providers sustained as much as $70,000 in damage, according to
court documents. Unlike more sophisticated hackers who take pains to
cover their tracks, King frequently taunted his victims in online chat
rooms even as he flooded their servers with as much as 1 gigabyte of
data per second.
"My good friend's ISP shut him over this fucking post," a user by the
name of SilenZ wrote in a CastleCops forum in February 2007, just
minutes before a DDoS attack brought it down. "I have the right to be
Volunteers at CastleCops, a watchdog computer-security website, spent
the next five days trying to deflect the assault.
King's DDoS activities date back to at least 2003, according to KillaNet
owner Tami Quiring, when a 17-year-old King perpetrated an especially
nasty electronic assault known as a smurf attack on her site. King
struck at Quiring again in December of 2004, shortly after FBI agents
had raided King's home.
King's arsenal included a 7,000-node botnet that he misappropriated from
another bot herder, according to court documents. At times, he used his
father's DSL connection to unleash the attacks. Other times, he launched
them from a near-by Best Buy store or a McDonald's restaurant.
Upon learning of Tuesday's guilty plea, Quiring said she had "mixed
"We're glad that it's over but two years [sentence] after four years of
hell, and the amount of money that his actions cost us, is somehow not
equaling up," she said.
Quiring recounted the years she and her coworkers spent trying to
insulate themselves from King's rampage. They tried befriending him, and
when that didn't work, they spent countless hours working with law
enforcement agencies to track him down and charge him.
Still, she said she feels something approaching satisfaction to know
that her ordeal with King is over.
"We told Greg a long time ago that he was taking on the wrong people and
I guess we proved it," she said.
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