Man Connected to Columbia Cyberattacks Arrested in Arizona

Apr 14, 2015

Credit Pinal County Sheriff

A man believed to be linked to the “Bitcoin Baron” Twitter account was arrested Thursday in Arizona.

“Bitcoin Baron” is the Twitter account that claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks against the City of Columbia and KOMU websites. According to Arizona Department of Public Safety officer Tim Case, Randall Tucker was charged with felony computer tampering, and is being held at Pinal County Jail.

Case says the Arizona Department of Public Safety is working with the FBI on the investigation.

Columbia Information Technologies Assistant Director Mark Neckerman says the attack resulted in a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, that prevented citizens from accessing the city’s website. This could prevent citizens from paying their utility bills or accessing city information.

Neckerman says that’s different from a “hack,” which implies that someone had illegitimate access to the website. A distributed denial of service makes an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.

“What we’re doing right now is working with the FBI to see if the City of Columbia can file charges against him as well,” Neckerman says.

KOMU Director of Audience Development Matt Garrett says these kinds of attacks take a toll on the station.

“It prevents people from getting the news and information they need and they deserve. It also impacts our ability to generate revenue because if people are not able to come to our website, we’re not able to generate advertising revenue. So really it’s a two-prong problem.”

Both the City of Columbia and KOMU now have systems in place to mitigate these types of attacks on their websites.

“We appreciate law enforcement officials finding the individual responsible for the unwarranted attack on komu.com,” Garrett says. “These malicious attacks are harmful – and benefit nobody.”