The U.S. Department of Justice announced this week that a 44-year-old man from California has been sentenced to 26 months in prison for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on two popular astronomy websites.
David Chesley Goodyear of El Segundo, California, was charged in August 2017 and was found guilty by a jury in February 2018. He was accused of launching cyberattacks on the website of Astronomics, a family-owned telescope retailer in Oklahoma, and Cloudy Nights, the world’s largest free astronomy forum, which Astronomics operates.
Goodyear has been sentenced to 26 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay over $27,000 to Astronomics, which represents the money spent by the company on mitigating the DDoS attacks and lost profits. The court also fined him $2,500.
“Judge Heaton explained the punishment by pointing out Goodyear’s clear intent to harm Astronomics and the importance of deterring sophisticated cybercrimes, which are difficult to trace and therefore particularly important to punish and thereby send the appropriate message to others,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
According to authorities, Goodyear created several accounts on the Cloudy Nights forum, but they were all banned for terms of service violations that included sending threats to administrators, moderators and other users.
In August 2016, after another one of his accounts was banned, Goodyear decided to launch a DDoS attack on the Astronomics website and the Cloudy Nights forum. The attacks started on August 13 and continued intermittently until the end of August, when law enforcement interviewed the man.
It appears that Goodyear had not attempted to hide his real IP address and since he openly threatened to launch attacks on the site after being banned, it was not difficult for law enforcement to identify him. He admitted being behind the attacks when interviewed.
The 26-month prison sentence is fairly standard for a DDoS attack. Some notable exceptions are the case of John Kelsey Gammell, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison – his sentence also included firearm charges – and the case of Mirai author Paras Jha, who got house arrest after collaborating with the FBI.
Another case that made headlines is the one of Austin Thompson, who will be sentenced in March 2019 for launching DDoS attacks on several online gaming companies, including Sony Online Entertainment. He pleaded guilty in November.