Gene Simmons v. Anonymous : FBI raids Gig Harbor home in search of hacker who targeted Kiss frontmanThe FBI has raided the Gig Harbor home of an alleged hacker suspected in a cyber attack against Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.
The October attack purportedly conducted by Anonymous – the same hacker group Sony claims crashed the Playstation Network – left the 61-year-old glam rocker's websites down for about a week after he spoke at an anti-online piracy conference.
Now, an FBI cyber crime squad has traced the attack to a Gig Harbor home where agents seized computer equipment late last month.
In court documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, a Los Angeles-based FBI special agent alleged the perpetrator of the attack was "most likely" someone living at the Gig Harbor residence.
Writing the court, though, the agent, a member of the Bureau cyber crime unit, stopped short of saying so with certainty.
"I believe that someone with access to the computer at the subject residence took part in the (denial of service) attacks," the agent told the court.
"Alternatively, if the computer at the subject residence was compromised prior to the (denial of service) attacks, a forensic examination of the computer would reveal evidence relating to the activities of compromised computer use."
In October, an attorney for Simmons reported to the FBI that several of his client's websites had been knocked down by hackers. That cyber attack came 10 days after Simmons made comments against copyright infringement at an event in Cannes, France.
Described in court documents as a Distributed Denial of Service attack, hackers essentially flooded Simmons' websites with requests for information. The barrage of requests caused the servers hosting the sites to shutdown the sites, which remained down for 36 hours.
Once the sites were restored, Simmons posted a message suggesting he would work with law enforcement to find those responsible. Days later, another set of servers were hammered by an identical attack lasting four days.
All told, the FBI agent said in court documents, the attacks cost $20,000 to $25,000 in downtime and associated costs.
Describing the type of attack made against Simmons, the agent said the hackers cause a network of computers to "flood" the target system with a large amount of data or commands. As a result the target computer becomes swamped with requests and legitimate users are denied access.
The attacks were claimed by a hacker group known as Anonymous, the FBI agent continued. The group dubbed the action "Operation Payback."
Recently in the news after issuing repeated denials that it was behind the intrusion that pulled user data from the Sony Playstation Network, the group had previously taken responsibility for cyber attacks on the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of American, the U.S. Copyright Office and several credit card companies.
For it's part, Sony contends Anonymous was behind the Playstation Network intrusion.
"We discovered that the intruders had planted a file on one of our Sony Online Entertainment servers named 'Anonymous' with the words 'We are Legion,'" a Sony spokesman said in a statement issued Wednesday through the company blog.
Reviewing information related to the October attacks against Simmons, the FBI was able to trace the source to several IP addresses. One of those, the agent told the court, tracked back to the Gig Harbor home.
Agents served the search warrant on the home on April 27 and took custody of a laptop computer. The search warrant and return were unsealed earlier this week.
Publically available court records do not show any new charges against the target of the search as a result of the investigation.