The FBI seized computers and other digital devices from a Gig Harbor home in connection to a group of online hackers that have targeted websites, including several sites owned by rock star Gene Simmons of KISS, according to a search warrant filed in federal court.
Federal investigators recently searched a home in the 3900 block of 55th Street Court NW. They believe a local resident, most likely with "a high level of computer skill", might be involved with the group, which was crashing websites opposed to free digital music file sharing. Simmons recently had urged a crack down on what he considers music pirates.
According to the search warrant filed the U.S. District Court in Tacoma last week, Special Agent Scott Love said the hackers may be responsible for a series Distributed Denial of Service attacks ("DDoS") on Simmons' websites including www.genesimmons.com, www.simmonsrecords.com and www.kissonline.com.
The story was first reported earlier today in the Seattle Times.
A DDoS attack is triggered by an overflow of data or commands on the victim's computer and causing it to disable network traffic and denying users from the site.
Investigators said the attacks were launched on Oct. 14, 2010, just 10 days after Simmons, 61, made comments on anti-piracy issues at the MIPCOM conference in Cannes, France.
"Make sure your brand is protected. Make sure there are no incursions. Be litigious. Sue everybody. Take their homes, their cars. Don't let anybody cross that line," Simmons said to the audience, according to an article in the Huffington Post.
The second attack was launched on Oct. 18.
During the subsequent November investigation, the FBI discovered that an Internet Protocol Address ("IP address"), linked to a Gig Harbor residence, attacked one of the websites 48,471 times on Oct. 19 over a period of 47 minutes. Later that month, the agency learned that the Internet Service Provider for that IP address as CenturyLInk.
"Based on the use of a secured wireless network, in conjunction with the IP address recovered from the logs of the victim's websites linking back to the subject residence, I believe that someone with access to the computer at the subject residence, took part in the DDoS attacks," said Love.
Love said both attacks were part of "Operation Payback" and were caused by an Internet activist group called "Anonymous." The attacks cost about $20,000 to $25,000 in downtime and repairs, according to Simmons.
In response, the musician posted a message addressed to the hackers on his personal website:
"Our legal team and the FBI have been on the case and we have found a few, shall we say "adventurous" young people, who feel they are above the law."
Love said Anonymous has also launched similar attacks on the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the United States Copyright Office, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.
According to the spokesman Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles, the case will now be handled in Los Angeles. Investigators have not made any arrests relating to this case. In the meantime, Patch will not identify the suspect’s name.
Click here to watch the YouTube video of Simmons’ appearance at the MIPCOM conference. (Viewer discretion is advised due to explicit language.)