Somerville man convicted of hacking BCH computer system

September 7, 2018
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Martin Gottesfeld, a 32-year-old Somerville resident, was convicted recently in federal court of conducting attacks on Boston Children’s Hospital and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network computer systems, according to a press release.

U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton will sentence Gottesfeld on Nov. 14 after he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to damage protected computers and one count of damaging protected computers.

According to the press release, Gottesfeld conducted a hacking attack against Wayside Youth and Family Support Network on March 25, 2014 that crippled the nonprofit’s computer network for more than a week and caused the facility to spend $18,000 to repair and fix. He then launched a massive 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,” stated the press release.

Gottesfeld, who identified himself as a member of the hacking group Anonymous, launched the attack to demand change in the way the Boston Children’s Hospital was handling a teenage patient (discharged months earlier), who was the subject of a custody battle between her parents and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to the press release.

The attack disrupted services at the hospitals.

In the fall of 2014, federal law enforcement searched Gottesfeld’s home and recovered a number of computers, servers, and hard drives, but he was not charged with a crime at the time. In February 2016, local police conducted a wellbeing check at Gottesfeld’s home, but no one was there. Later that month, Gottesfeld and his wife made a distress call from a small boat off the coast of Cuba, before being rescued by a cruise ship and returned to Miami, where he was arrested.

According to the press release, the charge of conspiracy to damage protected computers provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution and the charge of damaging protected computers provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.