Man charged in website hacking

Posted: March 23, 2014

A Missouri man was charged Friday with a computer-driven effort to shut down the City of Philadelphia's website by flooding it with more traffic than it could handle.

The alleged attack, outlined in charges filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office against Michael Crockett, 29, of Kansas City, occurred in September 2012, prosecutors said. They gave no explanation of Crockett's motive.

The charges were included in a document known as an information - typically a sign that the individual is cooperating with authorities and intends to plead guilty.

Authorities alleged that from Sept. 24 to 26, 2012, "Crockett knowingly caused the transmissions of programs, information, codes and commands and . . . intentionally attempted to cause damage to the computer hosting the website www.phila.gov.";

The effort, termed a "distributed denial of service" (DDOS) attack, cost the city more than $5,000, prosecutors said.

Adel Ebeid, Philadelphia's chief innovation officer and director of the Office of Innovation and Technology, said that, at the time, the city noticed a pattern of unusually high traffic on its website.

"So much traffic is generated that it gives the impression the website is down," Ebeid said. "We never did go down, but an outsider trying to access phila.gov would probably think it's down."

The city sought help from the federal government to figure out how all the traffic was generated, and the FBI's investigation led to Friday's charges, Ebeid said.


warnerb@phillynews.com

215-854-5885 @bobwarner1

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