An Indian-origin computer science student arrested after a multinational operation to crackdown on young hackers has been charged with carrying out cyber attacks on a chat site, according to officials.
Sean Krishanmakoto Sharma was produced before federal Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar in Los Angeles on Monday and was released on a $100,000 bail bond, said Brian Stretch, the federal prosecutor for Northern California.
Sharma had used a “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) tool to disrupt the computers of a San Francisco company that provides chat services to other companies between November 2014 and January 2015, Stretch said in a statement.
A court document identified the company as Chatango.
DDoS is a form of cyberattack that floods computers with bogus requests that overwhelm and paralyse it. DDoS uses viruses and programmes known as botnets because they robotically transmit disruptive requests to servers, and trojans, which are secretly implanted in other people’s computers to carry out attacks from there.
A court document said that Sharma used a botnet called Xtreme Fire to carry out the attacks.
Sagar, before whom Sharma appeared, became in 2013 the first Indian American woman to be appointed a federal judge.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which arrested Sharma on Friday in La Canada in California state, identified him as a 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The FBI said that his arrest was part of a joint anti-cybercrime operation by the US, Australia and 11 European countries that was coordinated by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at The Hague, in the Netherlands.
A total of 34 people were arrested during the five-day operation conducted from December 5, the FBI said without identifying the others or the countries they were arrested in. Many of them were under the age of 20, the FBI said.
Steven Wilson, the head of EC3, noted that many computer enthusiasts are getting involved in “low-level fringe cybercrime” without being aware of the consequences.
“One of the key priorities of law enforcement should be to engage with these young people to prevent them from pursuing a criminal path, helping them understand how they can use their skills for a more constructive purpose,” he said.