FBI Arrests Man on Political Cyber-attack Charges

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America's Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a man on suspicion of cyber-attacking the political rival of a former US congresswoman.

Arthur Jan Dam was arrested by the FBI on Friday. The 32-year-old is accused of masterminding a series of DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks that targeted an opponent of former congresswoman Katie Hill.

Dam is suspected of causing four DDoS attacks to hit the websites of Hill's rival in April and May of 2018. As a result of the attacks, the victim's website was down for approximately 21 hours, causing financial losses of $5,000. 

The victim believes that the attacks were partly to blame for a political loss sustained in the June 2018 Democratic primary for California’s 25th congressional district.

According to the complaint, "The victim reported suffering losses, including website downtime, a reduction in campaign donations, and time spent by campaign staff and others conducting critical incident response."

An investigation by the FBI found that the cyber-attacks originated from a single Amazon Web Services (AWS) account controlled by Dam, whose wife, Kelsey O'Hara, worked for one of Hill's rivals. Geolocation revealed that the attacks were launched from Dam's residence and also from his workplace.

The complaint states: "Dam was found to be connected to the cyber-attacks through subscriber information, IP addresses, geolocation history, and open sources, including through his employer and his wife, K.O., who worked for one of the victim's opponents."

According to Intercept, Dam provided $500 of free cybersecurity consulting services and graphic design to Hill's campaign in 2018; however, no evidence was found by the FBI that linked Hill personally to the cyber-attacks. 

The websites of Jess Phoenix and Bryan Cafario—two of Hill's Democratic party opponents—were struck with cyber-attacks in 2018, one of which was timed to coincide with a pivotal debate on April 28. Over the same period, no attacks against Hill's website were reported.

In a statement released on Friday, Paul Delacourt, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said: "Today’s arrest shows the FBI’s commitment to hold accountable anyone who interferes with an American’s right to vote or who deprives a candidate the right to compete fairly in an election."

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