Hacker jams auction site

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Hacker jams auction site

By Robert Monroe Staff Writer

TUJUNGA  A hacker working through servers in Europe has cost an online auctioneer hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business in the past two days, the Tujunga-based company said Friday. The attack affects not only BidBay.com, the countrys eighth-largest online auction site, but sites run by the Ralphs supermarket chain, commodities dealer Monex and other clients of BidBays Web host. Though the culprit, who has jammed BidBays site, has been traced to servers in Bulgaria and Austria, officials said they believe the point of origin might be Southern California.

"I feel like nuking them," said BidBay Chief Executive Officer George Tannous of his companys attacker.

Tannous estimated the sabotage cost BidBay $600,000 in lost business 36 hours after the first disruption. Programmers at the company estimate it could take the weekend to stop the hacker and restore service. Tannous is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the hacker.

Officials say it is reminiscent of similar assaults in February on major Internet sites like Yahoo and eBay.

The attack prevents people from getting onto BidBays site by continually flooding the Web sites computers with useless data, like a crank caller with speed-dial.

"People have set up computers to send trash data to a single computer," said BidBay spokesman Tim Allison. "Our computer has to analyze that data before it determines its garbage. It cant get real data in."

A spokeswoman for the FBI confirmed the agency is looking into the matter but could not say whether it has begun a formal investigation.

"Its a new crime problem, and were seeing more of it with more companies doing business online," said bureau spokeswoman Laura Bosley.

According to Internet rating agency Media Metrix Inc., BidBay ranked eighth among Internet auction sites in July with 785,000 unique user visits. In comparison, the top auction Web site, eBay, registered 12 million hits.

BidBay launched in January and employs 30 people, Tannous said.

The sabotage also affects West Coast Internet, the Web host for BidBay, and, indirectly, thousands of other companies whose Web space is provided and administered by West Coast Internet indirectly.

A spokesman for Ralphs could not be reached for comment Friday. Monex Vice President William Nelles said his company had received no complaints of disrupted service.

Paul Quaranto, owner of Capistrano Beach-based West Coast Internet, said he believes the attack is not random but is being done possibly by someone currently or formerly affiliated with the company. Visitors to any of its other clients sites should experience no worse than slower connections.

"I would definitely think its a former employee or someone who has something against George (Tannous)," said Quaranto, who calls such Internet attacks "the terrorist act of 2000."

In April, two months after major sites such as eBay, CNN and Yahoo reported similar floodings, police traced some of the attacks to a Montreal teen-ager who went by the screen name "Mafiaboy."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 09, 2000

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