A man from northeastern Wisconsin was indicted earlier this week on allegations that he participated in a cyber-attack that temporarily disabled the website of Koch Industries, kochind.com
, in February 2011 amid protests in Madison over Gov. Scott Walker's union-weakening Act 10 legislation.
Federal prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas, have charged Eric J. Rosol, 37, of Black Creek, Wis., a town of about 1,300 people near Green Bay, with crimes that carry a maximum sentence of five years each: conspiracy to damage a protected computer and damaging a protected computer. Rosol allegedly joined in "denial of service" attacks launched by the Anonymous group, including the assault that crippled the Koch website on Feb. 28, 2011. The attacks, which overwhelmed websites with repeated requests for information, used pieces of software such as the "Low Orbit Ion Cannon" (LOIC) to automate the process of harassing kochind.com
to its knees.
Followers of Anonymous also targeted the websites of the Angel Soft and Quilted Northern brands of toilet paper. Koch Industries owns their maker, the Georgia-Pacific paper company of Atlanta.
Anonymous organizes its operations through a variety of internet backwaters. In addition to the denial of service attacks, Anonymous members discussed sending ominous faxes of the group's emblem to Walker's office and even mooning the governor, an effort termed "Operation Moon Walker."
Koch's co-owners, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, contributed to Walker's 2010 campaign for governor, and a liberal blogger's Feb. 23 prank call
to Walker impersonating the latter sibling tied the industrialists' pun-friendly surname to the broiling controversy. Some of anonymous' members referred to the attack on kochind.com
as Operation Koch Block.
According to an FBI affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun
, someone likely associated with Anonymous sent an email to Koch Industries on Feb. 24 warning of an impending attack. The Anonymous "troops" began bombarding the Koch website on Feb. 28 after a person coordinating the attack issued the order to open fire. As the assault unfolded, the ringleader urged the LOIC shooters to press on:
FiRe Ur L4z0rz!
Keep it up, boys and girls! LAZERS TO 188.8.131.52 kochind.com is down and sinking further!
Someone asked, "After it's down, do you have to keep firing?" and the response was swift.
YES ALWAYS KEEP FIRING
The affidavit lists 12 "targets" of the investigation, and because The Smoking Gun redacted the names, it's impossible to tell from the document if Rosol was one of them. So far, he's the only person who has been charged with participating in Operation Koch Block.
According to Wisconsin court records, Rosol pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge in 1998.