Austin Bay

On April 25, Spanish police, at the request of Holland's national prosecutor's office, arrested Dutch citizen Sven Olaf Kamphuis.

Kamphuis will likely face charges in Holland related to what Dutch officials describe as the most extensive criminal cyberattacks in the history of the Internet.

The attacks, which occurred in mid-March, overwhelmed the website of Spamhaus, a European nonprofit organization that tracks computer viruses (malware) and spam (unwanted email). Spamhaus had blacklisted Kamphuis' Internet company, CyberBunker. Spamhaus alleged that CyberBunker provided hosting services for spammers.

The attacks (distributed denial of service, DDOS attacks) not only denied Internet users access to the Spamhaus website, but slowed Internet connectivity worldwide. Europe experienced the worst disruptions, but subsequent reports indicated the attacks had global effects. Streaming video providers (Internet TV or movie sources) were particularly vulnerable.

Kamphuis utterly rejects the allegation that he is a criminal. In March, he told Britain's Daily Telegraph that he was a victim of a conspiracy. In a New York Times report, he said he was an Internet activist and portrayed Spamhaus as a hoity-toity censor being punished for abusing its influential role as a monitor of spam and spammers.

But an array of organizations, to include several European police agencies, a Dutch Internet service provider and a Silicon Valley Internet security firm assert they have evidence that step by step ties the attacks to CyberBunker and a loose-knit organization of Internet "hacktivists" named Stophaus. Kamphuis has served as a Stophaus spokesman.

The prosecutors and police contend that the Spamhaus incident hacktivism amounts to large-scale vandalism and theft. The service disruptions spawned by the Spamhaus attacks may have merely inconvenienced millions of people around the globe. But given the Internet's increasingly vital role in commerce, it also cost a slew of people money as well as time.

In the Netherlands, DDOS attacks are a crime. At one time, CyberBunker had a facility in Holland. It may still, though Spanish authorities reported that when they arrested Kamphuis they seized a vehicle-mounted cyber operations center crammed with sophisticated digital equipment. Nonetheless, the Dutch government is asserting jurisdiction. Kamphius' attorneys will dispute Dutch sovereignty. Hacktivist radicals dispute any claim of sovereignty over the Internet.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
Be the first to read Austin Bay's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.

©Creators Syndicate