A one-time resident of Hancock is among 13 people indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of carrying out a series of cyber-attacks in revenge for the closure of a website that illegally distributed recordings, motion pictures and other works in violation of copyright law.
According to the indictment handed up by a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., in late 2010 and early 2011, the group, which called itself “Anonymous” launched what it called “Operation Payback” after being cut off from an Internet-based service that illegally distributed copyrighted movies and recordings.
Geoffrey Kenneth Commander, described by PC Magazine as a 65-year-old man from Hancock, was among the 13 indicted. Attempts to reach him at the Hancock address were unsuccessful and a reporter was told that he no longer lived there.
Group members used a so-called denial-of-service program that is freely available on the Internet to attack websites operated by motion picture and recording industry groups and governmental copyright authorities in a number of countries, the indictment said. The program is designed to create enough web traffic directed at a designated website to cause a disruption of service.
The group also allegedly attacked sites operated by companies owning the Visa and Mastercard credit and debit card brands and the Internet-retailer Amazon.com, Inc., for purportedly not processing donations to the Wikileaks web site.
Commander is specifically accused in the indictment of participating in the choice of targets and encouraging others to participate in the attacks, adding to the disruption caused.
Commander, under the nom d’net “bipto.” was also allegedly involved with five others in a Dec. 8, 2010, attack on Mastercard in which the company’s website was flooded with requests with the intent of making the site unusable.
The attacks were intended, the indictment states, as retribution for what the attackers portrayed as an infringement on their freedom posted by governmental agencies shutting down websites that allowed them access to the copyrighted creative works of others without paying for them.
— Union Leader Correspondent April Guilmet contributed to this report.