Anchorage FBI cybercrime investigation leads to California conviction
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - An investigation by the Anchorage FBI Field Office has led to a conviction in California.
According to Shawn Peters, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for National Security Programs at the Anchorage FBI Field Office, the case was involved in a series of cybercrime related websites being seized by the FBI.
“Last week in the Central District of California, Mr. Matthew Gatrel was convicted on three charges,” Peters explained, “One charge involving impairment of a protected computer, the second charge involving conspiracy to commit impairment of a protected computer, and one charge of wire fraud.”
Peters continued, “Mr. Gatrel’s cases evolved from an earlier case from a few years ago here in Anchorage involving an individual by the name of David Bukoski. Mr. Bukoski operated a similar site to Mr. Gatrel’s, something called Quantum Stresser, which was designed to allow individuals to conduct DDoS attacks at targets they select and pay for.”
A DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a form of cybercrime meant to overwhelm someone’s computer or network. Peters elaborated that this is case “in which an individual uses a high volume of internet traffic to cripple other computers and networks by overwhelming them with connections. The attack is expanded outwards by using computers in different locations and different networks to amplify the attack, creating the effect of an attack much larger than you would from one or two computers.”
Peters continued, “In 2018, Mr. Bukoski’s website or domain was seized by the FBI, along with 14 others - and in those 14 others that were seized were two domains that were operated by Mr. Gatrel: AmpNode.com and DownThem.org. The first of those, DownThem.org, essentially was a menu, if you will, where individuals, criminals looking to do DDoS attacks could go to the website, select a series of attack options just like ordering food from a menu, and pay for those services.”
And according to Peters, these sites were organized and prepared to provide for those seeking their services.
“Customer service on those sites was amazing,” Peters said. “It was to the point where Mr. Gatrel would actually provide demonstrations, samples if you will, of his abilities for customers. Then the second site, AmpNode, essentially housed the infrastructure and the computers necessary to conduct those attacks. These two sites are an example of what’s typically referred to as ‘cybercrime as a service’ in that individuals with a lesser degree of sophistication or resources can pay other criminals to perform their attacks for them.”
Bukoski and Gatrel together have conducted many attacks across the world including in Alaska according to Peters.
“Both Mr. Gatrel and Mr. Bukoski conducted attacks numbering in the thousands, again as part of this service scheme,” Peters explained. “These attacks targeted individuals in the United States and across the world, certainly to include Alaskans as well. These attacks really had a disproportionate effect on Alaskans though, because in a state like this, so many people rely on the internet for their livelihood, and really for their connection to the world.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cameron L. Schroeder, who is also Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section; and Assistant United States Attorney Adam Alexander of the District of Alaska.
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