CA: University student indicted for DDoS attacks on Bay area online chat service (updated)

SAN FRANCISCO – Sean Krishanmakoto Sharma, a graduate student in computer science, has been indicted for transmitting a program, information, code, or command causing damage to a protected computer announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The indictment, filed December 1, 2016, and unsealed December 9, 2016, accuses the graduate student of initiating a number of attacks on a local provider of online chat services.

According to the indictment, between November 6, 2014, and January 20, 2015, Sharma, 26, of La Canada, Calif., used a “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) tool to compromise the computers of a San Francisco-based company that provides online chat services to third party web sites.   The indictment charges Sharma with one count in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(A) & (c)(4)(A)(i)(I).

Sharma was arrested December 9, 2016, in La Canada and made his initial appearance before the Honorable Alka Sagar, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Central District of California.  He was released on a $100,000 bond.  Sharma is next scheduled to appear on December 16, 2016, before the Honorable Jacqueline Scott Corley, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Northern District of California for arraignment.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, Sharma faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, three years of supervised release, and/or a fine. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cynthia Frey, a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Computer Hacking/Intellectual Property Unit.  The case is being investigated by the FBI.

Further Information:

Case #: CR 16-484 CRB

SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California

In related news, the FBI’s press release describes Sharma as a 26 year-old graduate student at the University of Southern California.

Update: HackRead identifies the chat platform as Chatango.

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