An individual is taking credit for the distributed denial of service attacks on the websites of the City of Columbia and KOMU-8 on Friday.
KOMU posted about the attack on its Facebook page at 3:48 p.m. Friday, about three hours after the station had reported on a similar attack on the City of Columbia’s website earlier Friday.
KOMU’s article included a statement from Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine indicating the activist group Anonymous was behind the attacks. Shortly after their site was attacked, KOMU received an email from a third party who indicated that he, not Anonymous, was behind both attacks.
KOMU General Manager Marty Siddall said the individual referred to himself as “Bitcoin Baron.” Through his Twitter, Bitcoin Baron has connected himself to multiple other DDoS attacks.
Bitcoin Baron said in a video that his motivation behind the attacks was a 2010 Columbia SWAT raid on the house of Jonathan Whitworth, who was presumed to be a marijuana dealer.
During the raid, one of Whitworth’s dogs was fatally shot in front of his wife and child.
“I decided that this should go viral once more to show everyone the true nature of how you and every police department does things,” Bitcoin Baron said in his video.
Bitcoin Baron said in a tweet that no data was affected by any of the DDoS attacks.
@rmckinney9 You're welcome just glad I was able to be on to help you out and no, no data is compromised, as I don't do that.— Excalibur (@xBitCoin_Baronx) December 27, 2014
Prasad Calyam, assistant professor of computer science with a technical focus in cyber security, said DDoS attacks occur when a user creates a large amount of fake traffic that accesses a site’s servers all at once to crash the site.
“(A DDoS attack) is a sort of brute force attack, where many machines are compromised to act like regular users in order to block real users from reaching the site,” he said.
Calyam said DDoS attacks cannot be stopped as they occur, and he advised that locally blocking a website is the best way to deal with an attack.
“(That is) because it’s hard for an Internet provider to block people from accessing your site,” he said. “The only way to prevent attacks is through an intrusion detection system, which can be really expensive … There are open source intrusion detection systems available, but they must be maintained and managed by experts.”
Siddall said KOMU is working with their third-party Internet provider to prevent future attacks.