FBI Raids Home Of Teenage 4chan Fan
(THE SMOKING GUN) The home of a 15-year-old habitué of 4chan was searched last month by FBI agents probing last October’s coordinated denial of service attacks on several web sites affiliated with the rock star Gene Simmons.
The April 27 raid at the Gig Harbor, Washington home of teenager Gunnar Lantz was prompted by a review of computer logs and IP records showing that the online assault against the performer was, in part, launched from the boy’s residence, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
Agents seized the high school student’s laptop during the early-morning raid and questioned him extensively about Simmons, 4chan, and the denial of service attack, according to the boy’s mother. Rhoda Lantz, 44, told TSG that agents–who arrived at her door with guns drawn at 6:40 AM–initially said they were involved in a cyber crime investigation.
But it wasn’t until an agent asked her son if he had a problem with the Kiss star that the boy grasped the nature of the federal inquiry. “Oh, this is about the Gene Simmons attack,” he said, according to his mother.
The targeting of three Simmons web sites was reportedly orchestrated by the shadowy online group Anonymous as part of its “Operation Payback” campaign. The singer apparently angered members of the outfit when he delivered an October 5 speech urging entertainment figures to take legal action against online piracy. “Be litigious,” he advised. “Sue everybody, take their houses, their cars. The music industry was asleep at the wheel and didn’t have the balls to sue every freckle-faced kid who downloaded tracks.”
Simmons’s sites were knocked offline in retaliation. After they returned, he posted a message warning the attackers that they would be hunted down by law enforcement officials.
This prompted a second denial of service that lasted four days. The attacks cost Simmons “approximately $20,000 to $25,000 in downtime and costs associated with changing computer servers and website hosts,” according to the affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Scott Love, a cyber crimes investigator assigned to the bureau’s Los Angeles field office.
An FBI analysis of server logs revealed that in the midst of the second attack, a computer in the Lantz home reloaded a Simmons web site 48,471 times during a 47-minute period on the evening of October 19. Such a bombardment of requests often leaves a web site overwhelmed and inaccessible to legitimate traffic.
Rhoda Lantz contended that her son, who was 14 at the time of the denial of service assaults, somehow downloaded a program that “infected” his computer and triggered the attack on the Simmons web sites. She noted that FBI agents said it was, “obvious that my son was not the mastermind,” adding that investigators questioned him about his activity on 4chan, where many Anonymous operations–including denial of service campaigns–have been organized.
Lantz said that agents asked her son whether he “pushed a button” to trigger a program (such as a “Low Orbit Ion Cannon”) that overwhelmed Simmons with traffic. During “Operation Payback” gambits, visitors to 4chan have been provided with instructions on how to download applications that can facilitate their computer’s participation in denial of service attacks.
Lantz, though, was hesitant to discuss her son’s involvement with the notorious web site. “We were instructed not to say anything bad about 4chan,” she said, apparently concerned about the kind of reprisals often visited upon the site’s detractors.
As seen above, Gunnar Lantz’s Facebook page–which carries the nickname “herpderpity”–lists 4chan among the three sites he visits daily. He lists “Trolling” as a favorite sport and includes a drawing of “Smiling Man,” a meme that was spread on 4 chan. Additionally, in response to the question “Who would you rather be your doctor?” Lantz answered “moot,” the pseudonym of Christopher Poole, 4chan’s founder. Above the word “moot” is a photo of what appears to be Poole’s cat.
In light of her son’s age, Rhoda Lantz remarked the FBI can’t really do anything to her child. Complaining that, “my son and I are caught in the middle,” she criticized Simmons for “starting his whole pissing contest” by “popping off like a four-year-old.” (5 pages)