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Indian American hacker sentenced

Jasmine got 5-yr term and was fined $35,000, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2005 14:29 IST

Jasmine Singh, a 17-year-old Indian American, has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $35,000 for hacking into commercial websites with a computer virus.

Singh's aim was to cripple the site of an online sportswear retailer at the bidding of a competitor, but he ended up causing widespread damage.

The teenager's DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks took their toll of some 120 online companies including major retailers, banks and pharmaceutical businesses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

A New Jersey superior court's ruling came after Singh, a resident of Edison, pleaded guilty to two counts of computer theft.

He carried out the attacks at the instance of Jason Arabo, the owner of a small online sportswear business who wanted to keep rivals at bay.

Charges of conspiracy, filed against Arabo are pending in a federal court. All that he offered Singh for his services was imitation classic sportswear, it is said.

In his guilty plea, Singh admitted that he repeatedly sabotaged a Burlington county online sportswear outlet's website with DDoS attacks during July-December 2004.

According to the attorney general's office, Singh attacked computers with a virus and then directed the infected computers to send the Burlington company trillions of packets of data every hour.

Singh's attacks reportedly led to a $1.5 million loss to affected companies - in terms of sales and cost of re-launching their websites.

Investigators quoted by PC World said that Singh infected about 2,000 computers just by making available a file advertised to be the picture of a naked Jennifer Lopez on a file-swapping network.

"Instead of opening an image, though, people who clicked the file installed a Trojan horse that exploited PCs with poor virus and firewall protection," the journal reported. Most of these "hijacked" PCs were located on college campuses in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

First Published: Sep 03, 2005 13:54 IST