Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal cy­bert­er­ror­ist no hero

Boston Herald - - HERALD OPINION -

Cy­bert­er­ror­ism is ter­ror­ism. It dis­rupts lives, causes panic and drains re­sources from where they are needed. Pun­ish­ment must be swift and harsh, and no quar­ter must be given to these at­tack­ers just be­cause they work in com­puter code rather than ex­plo­sives.

Martin Gottes­feld, who at­tacked the Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal com­puter net­work as well as a treat­ment home in 2014, was sen­tenced on Thurs­day to more than 10 years in prison. Gottes­feld helped or­ches­trate the com­puter at­tack, which au­thor­i­ties say dis­rupted the hos­pi­tal’s net­work for roughly a week, in the name of the in­fa­mous hack­ing group Anony­mous. Au­thor­i­ties said the April 19, 2014, at­tack lasted at least seven days, dis­rupted the hos­pi­tal’s net­work and took down its web­site.

A state­ment by the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice, re­leased last sum­mer, speaks to the scope of the at­tack. After tar­get­ing the Way­side Youth & Fam­ily Sup­port Net­work, which crip­pled its net­work for more than a week and caused the fa­cil­ity to spend $18,000 on re­sponse and mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts, “Gottes­feld launched a mas­sive DDOS at­tack against the com­puter net­work of the Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. He cus­tom­ized ma­li­cious soft­ware that he in­stalled on 40,000 net­work routers that he was then able to con­trol from his home com­puter. After spend­ing more than a week pre­par­ing his meth­ods, on April 19, 2014, he un­leashed a DDOS at­tack that di­rected so much hos­tile traf­fic at the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal com­puter net­work that he not only knocked Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal off the in­ter­net, but knocked sev­eral other hos­pi­tals in the Long­wood med­i­cal area off the in­ter­net as well.”

Martin Gottes­feld has re­peat­edly in­sisted that he had no re­grets for the cy­ber­at­tacks, in­sists his ac­tions weren’t crim­i­nal be­cause he says was try­ing to save the life of Justina Pel­letier. Pel­letier had been placed into state cus­tody in Mas­sachusetts after her par­ents dis­puted Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal doc­tors’ di­ag­no­sis of their daugh­ter.

The case drew na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion and ig­nited a civil rights de­bate. Justina Pel­letier was later re­turned to her par­ents per or­der of a judge.

Gottes­feld’s lack of re­morse did him no fa­vors in court. “It was your ar­ro­gance and mis­placed pride that has been on dis­play in this case from the very be­gin­ning that led you to be­lieve you know more than the doc­tors at Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal,” U.S. Dis­trict Judge Nathaniel Gor­ton said. Judge Gor­ton also called Gottes­feld’s crimes “contemptible, in­vid­i­ous and loath­some.”

As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney David D’Ad­dio de­scribed him as a “self­ag­gran­diz­ing men­ace,” who put lives in dan­ger, con­tin­ues to ped­dle “lies and con­spir­acy the­o­ries about his pros­e­cu­tion” and is a se­ri­ous risk of of­fend­ing again.

Gottes­feld is no hero. He is an ig­no­rant cow­ard who be­longs in jail.

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