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Man Admits to DDoS-ing Employers, Competitors

A New Mexico man admitted in court this week to launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the websites of former employers, business competitors, and public services.

The culprit, John Kelsey Gammell, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer, admitting to launching DDoS attacks on websites in the United States, from at least in or about July 2015 through in or about March 2017. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon-in-possession of a firearm.

The DDoS attacks were aimed at numerous websites, including domains operated by companies Gammell used to work for or of those that declined to hire him. He also targeted competitors of his business and websites for law enforcement agencies and courts, among others.

Gammell admitted to using programs on his own computers and to purchasing the services of “DDoS-for-hire” companies to launch the DDoS attacks. He purchased the services of companies such as VDoS, CStress, Inboot, and IPStresser, the Department of Justice reveals.

Some of the victims he targeted include Washburn Computer Group, the Minnesota State Courts, Dakota County Technical College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, among others.

To avoid detection, he used IP address anonymization services, paid for the DDoS-for-hire services using cryptocurrency, used spoofed emails to conceal his conduct, and employed encryption and drive-cleaning tools to conceal digital evidence. To circumvent his victims’ DDoS attack mitigation efforts, Gammell amplified his attacks by using multiple DDoS-for-hire services at once.

Gammell is a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. He also admitted to possessing multiple firearms, ammunition, and parts for use in the building of firearms and ammunition. His sentence is scheduled for a later date.

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