UCONN STUDENT INDICTED
A UConn student allegedly participated in a 'hacktivist' campaign called ‘Operation Payback’
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 17:10
A University of Connecticut student who was indicted for his alleged involvement with a hacking group known as Anonymous made his first appearance in court on Friday.
Anthony Tadros, who is a computer science major set to graduate in December, made the more than 300 mile trek to a US district court in Alexandria, Va. this weekend for an initial hearing.
“(T)he hearing was simply for those indicted to request a court appointed attorney and to notify me of pretrial conditions,” Tadros, who has also worked as a security analyst at UConn, said Sunday.
Tadros said he does not yet have an attorney, and will appear back in the Virginia court next Friday, Oct. 18. Tadros has not yet entered a plea, but he could face fines or a prison sentence if convicted.
On Oct. 3, Tadros, along with 12 other individuals, was indicted by a grand jury for alleged involvement in a hacking scheme dubbed “Operation Payback.” Tadros, at 22, is the youngest of those indicted, but the accused range in ages of up to 65 and come from all over the country.
According to the indictment letter, Tadros is accused of helping to orchestrate an attack on MasterCard’s website using the moniker “Winslow.” The attack, known in technical circles as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, aims to temporarily disable a web server by repeatedly sending its host a certain message.
The message sent by Anonymous was one of protest. In December 2010, the hacking group carried out a series of these campaigns against banking websites – including PayPal and Visa, after the companies shut off service to WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes secret government documents.
Tadros will continue his studies while the matter is settled in court. However, his current court-ordered restrictions include “limited use of computer with internet access except as allowed by a probation officer,” he cannot leave Connecticut unless it is to travel to a court appearance in Virginia, and Tadros cannot have a firearm in his home.
At his Oct. 18 court appearance, a trial date will be set unless Tadros chooses to accept a plea bargain.
Tadros began working for UConn in March of 2011 when he accepted a job at the University Information Technology Services Business Office.
“Over my time there, I worked as a database manager, I converted their entire project management database from an Access (database) over to Oracle DB, a more professional, secure, faster database system,” Tadros said.
From there, Tadros was hired to work at the Infromation Security Office beginning in 2012.
“I was involved in the secureU initiative, which aims to rid UConn-owned computers of (Personally Identifiable Information) like credit card numbers, SSN, bank account numbers, addresses, etc. as the presence of this information is a potential risk to the university,” Tadros said. “After I was indicted, I let my supervisor know of the situation and after talking I decided to leave my position willingly and in good faith.”
Tadros said he learned of the indictment almost immediately after the story caught his eye on his news and Twitter feeds.
“On Friday morning (Oct. 4), I received a call from an FBI agent asking me to turn myself in, and I did so willingly,” Tadros said. He was then taken to Hartford Superior Court for a bail hearing.
But the FBI’s involvement in Tadros’ case likely stems back to Jan. 29, 2011, when agents executed a search warrant in Storrs at 208 North Eagleville Road, which was Tadros’ residence at the time.
FBI Special Agent Daniel Curtin said in a telephone interview that a search and interviews were conducted at the residence in January 2011, adding that the arrest of Tadros is “probably” the product of events surrounding that day.
Curtin said the Oct. 3 incident at 208 North Eagleville Road, where UConn student Justin McCabe was awoken at the residence and interviewed on the scene, was part of the execution of an arrest warrant for Tadros.
McCabe, a senior journalism major and current resident at 208 North Eagleville Road, said the FBI had received “bad information” that Tadros still lived at the residence.