Security & Fraud

Hospital Cyberattacker Receives 10-Year Prison Sentence

A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for a cyberattack that disrupted Boston Children’s Hospital‘s network for two weeks. Reuters reported that 34-year-old Martin Gottesfeld carried out the attack for hacking activist group Anonymous, which was protesting a custody case involving a teenage girl being treated at the hospital.

Gottesfeld, who was detained three years ago on a disabled boat off the coast of Cuba after running from U.S. authorities, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston.

“Make no mistake, your crime was contemptible, invidious and loathsome,” Gorton said.

He was found guilty of two counts, including conspiracy to damage protected computers, and must pay $443,000 in restitution. Gottesfeld said he plans to appeal the sentencing and has no regrets.

“I wish I could have done more,” he said.

In addition, Gottesfeld decided to carry out his cyberattack after learning about the custody dispute involving Connecticut teenager, Justina Pelletier, who was taken into state custody in Massachusetts after Boston Children’s Hospital determined her health problems were psychiatric and her parents were interfering with her treatment. The case garnered national attention, with some believing the state was hindering her parents’ rights.

Gottesfeld, a computer engineer living in Somerville, Massachusetts, disagreed with the hospital’s diagnosis and the state’s actions. In March 2014, he launched a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a residential treatment facility where the girl was a resident after leaving the hospital. One month later, he launched a similar attack that disrupted Boston Children’s Hospital’s network for two weeks, including internet services used to treat patients.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David D’Addio called Gottesfeld a “self-aggrandizing menace” who put children’s lives at risk, and who could do even more damage when released from prison.

“It is terrifying to contemplate what he will do with the next cause he adopts,” D’Addio said.

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