- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2018

The Department of Justice has unsealed felony hacking charges against a California man accused of vandalizing websites operated by government victims including the West Point military academy and the New York City Comptroller’s Office.

Billy Ribeiro Anderson, 41, was arrested Thursday at his home in Torrance, California, in connection with a criminal complaint charging him with three separate counts of computer fraud connected to the two defacements, the Justice Department said in a press release.

Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Anderson after investigators linked him to an internet alias that took credit for defacing more than 11,000 websites between 2015 and 2018, including sites for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and the NYC Comptroller, among others.

Using the handle “AlfabetoVirtual,” Mr. Anderson bragged about his achievements on Zone-H, a website where hackers submit evidence of their exploits to be archived, FBI special agent George F. Murphy alleged in the government’s complaint against him.

AlfabetoVirtual took credit on Zone-H for the West Point and NYC Comptroller defacements in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and authorities eventually linked the alias to Mr. Anderson by scrutinizing social media activity and internet records allegedly connecting the two, according to the FBI agent.

Mr. Anderson has been charged with two counts of computer fraud for causing damage to a protected computer and one count of computer fraud for unauthorized access to a U.S. government computer. He was scheduled to make his initial appearance Thursday in Los Angeles federal court Thursday, though records regarding his case were not available online as of early Friday, and an attorney for Mr. Anderson could neither be immediately identified nor reached for comment.

A mirrored image of the NYC Comptroller website published by Zone-H in 2015 showed that the site was altered to include the words “Hacked by AlfabetoVirtual,” “#FREEPALESTINE” and “#FREEGAZA,” according to the Justice Department. The West Point site, meanwhile, was defaced to simply render the words “Hacked by AlfabetoVirtual,” the FBI agent wrote in the complaint.

Remediating the NYC Comptroller and West Point defacements cost a combined total of more than $12,000, according to the Justice Department.

“Among other possible effects, website defacements can disrupt an organization’s operations and damage its credibility,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in chief of the FBI’s New York field office. “The charges filed against Anderson should serve as a reminder that committing these acts of cyber vandalism will not be tolerated.”

Other defacements attributed to the hacker affected victims including the website for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

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