back to article Second US man admits DDoS attack on Scientology

A Nebraska man has admitted he participated in a mass attack last year that briefly brought the Church of Scientology's website to its knees. In a plea agreement signed Friday, Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, 20, said he downloaded custom software from a message board controlled by the anti-Scientology group known as Anonymous with …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    Idiot kids ...

    I'm no CO$ fan, not by a long stretch ... but PLEASE keep it legal, children. We are better than they are.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    These guys are no criminals

    These guys are heroes, albeit slightly silly heroes!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Just another noob

    who bought into the whole "hackers on steroids" bullshit and then forgot the seven proxies while firing up his Low Orbit Ion Cannon

    1. Chris Collins


      firin ma lazer...

  4. SuperTim

    you'd think.....

    That after 75 bazillion years on planet earth, xenu would have figured how to prevent a DDoS attack. Hmm, i am starting to think that some of their dogma is not entirely based on fact.

    Still i am sure that some of their "auditors" will soon put me straight in their own inimitable style.

    Wait.... I think there's a knock at the door......

  5. nichomach


    "controlled by the anti-Scientology group known as Anonymous". Reallly truly? Isn't that a bit like saying "controlled by The Lumber Cartel (TINLC)"?

  6. Flugal
    Thumb Up

    Oh well

    If the brief DDoS attack spared one or two people from getting sucked into the ludicrous world of Church of Scientology*, then it was worth it.

    (*Not that any other church is any less nuts and insidious)

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Can't help but wonder

    Just how much inside influence do the Thetanists have on that judge.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    12 months is reasonable ?

    at least its not my country.

    Over here they cannot call them selves a church.

    I may move to Germany, where they are listed as a cult.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    A year in jail?

    For what? Making a cult website temporarily unavailable for a few days?

    A fine would suffice or maybe even community service, but jail? The punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime here.

  10. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    Thumb Down

    By "12 months"

    Do we mean "12 months of being feted like a hero, with an unending supply of nubile young women and beer?" No?

    I'm still waiting for the film to come out, where Kevin Smith (he did so well in Die Hard 4.0 as Warlock) plays the uber-hacker taking on the cyber-might of the Co$ - and wins. Hopefully taking out John Travolta* and Tom Cruise in the process.

    *John Travolta has flown a plane-load of supplies - and Scientologist "support staff" into Haiti to "help the earthquake victims". I don't know where to start with what's wrong with that scenario.

    - "You can have some clean water as long as you sign this billion-year contract with us"

    - "Yes, the tin-cans meter indicates that you're emotionally unstable at the moment after your house collapsing on you, leaving you buried for a week and killing your family - would you like to take a $2000 course in dianetics?"

    - "See? Scientology IS proper religions - we helps out in nasty things n stuff. Can we has our tax brakes and religion status nao pls? kthxbai!"

  11. RainForestGuppy

    What will be his punishment?

    Being made to watch all the films John Travolta made between Saturday night fever and Pulp Fiction, and Battlefield Earth.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Not unauthorised access

    "Defendant used that software to, without authorization, access the COS websites at such a high rate that it impaired the integrity and availability of the COS websites and the computer system where they were hosted,"

    Cant see how this is unauthorised access, the COS web site is open to all, similarly the integrity argument is flawed, unless the code launched an attack to gain unauthorised access, but straight DDoS is normally high rate distributed source gets. If this causes an integrity issue, then any access could.

    Another issue would be the botnet used for the DDoS, this would be unauthorised access unless every system owner granted permission for the software to run, in which case they would also be liable. As you need a large number of bots to run an effective DDoS, it is possible that he used hundreds or thousands of compromised systems, so COS are not the only victims.

    Looks like the plea bargaining came up with wording that suited the COS and a potential sentence that suited Mettenbrink. Considering that COS are a bunch of litigious round things that brown stuff comes out of, Mr Mettenbrink got off lightly, unless there are threats to him and his family that are not in this article.

    DDoS is a nasty attack, very difficult to defend against and damaging to the victim, often causing loss of business. In this case, I think that COS should be in the dock for having such a feeble web site, but that’s a personal feeling and no basis for the law.

  13. Ralph B

    Permission to DDOS?

    > Defendant used that software to, without authorization, access the COS websites

    So, you're supposed to get permission from someone before you DDOS them? Who'd've thunk it?

    Maybe it should be made a requirement that everyone be required to seek formal permission from COS to visit the their website. By mail or fax, do you think?

    Whichever, a year in the slammer for temporarily rendering a scam site inaccessible seems a bit harsh to me. But I is not an American.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
      Paris Hilton

      I think...

      ..the "without premission" wording is in the law to exempt authorized penetration testing.

      Paris because.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    here's hoping

    ..that he puts a paypal page up so people can donate to his defense fund. A lot less sinister than handing your money over to the brainwashing clam-botherers in the "church" of Scientology.

    Hint- never trust a prophet whose name rhymes with "cupboard"...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Something doesn't add up

    ""Defendant used that software to, without authorization, access the COS websites at such a high rate that it impaired the integrity and availability of the COS websites and the computer system where they were hosted," the agreement stated."

    Ok, I'm not supporting a DoS attack on anyone, but I don't understand the legalities behind the claim that the defendants without authorization accessed a website.

    No offense to the lawyers, but when you set up a website, you *are* inviting someone to visit your website. Am I arguing semantics? Yeah. you're right.

    The point is that the claim that the defendant needed 'authorization' is a bit bogus.

  16. LawLessLessLaw

    A year in prison

    That's punative justice

  17. Anonymous Coward


    A year in federal prison for bringing down a website. Overkill. People who murder people often get parolled in just 2 years. Stupid sentence.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Naughty boys

    Xenu is going to get you! He'll make sure you never become Thetans and you are forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scientologist help...

    From what I hears (I haven't got confirmation) is that on 9/11 all teh scientologist helpers did was point at people. If that is true and they try that at Haiti, they'll get themselves slaughtered. Anyway, the UK national news on John T. covered that he shipped in supplies, but not other sci support.

    I hope that the sci people did get flown in ... I hope that they do just stand there and point at people ... 'cause that'll embarass the US government in to taking action against CoS.

    The Haitians need all the help they can get.

    On the other hand, if the scis are there and are actually helping out then, much as I can't believe I'm saying this, then good on 'em. Let's face it, with one of their OT VII ministers being arrested for first degree murder and a botched suicude attempt, they need all the positive publicity they can get right now. Just search for "rex fowler scientology"

    1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

      "Support Staff"

      Here's the link to the BBC article:

      The line "The team also included Scientology ministers." is (currently) in the article, and the ITN news on TV yesterday indicated that the doctors & other medical staff are also Scientologists.

      If I had any confidence whatsoever that they might do some good, then as much as I disagree with their "theology", I'd support the fact that they were trying to help. However, based on incidents that have occurred previously, I doubt that to the nth degree. I don't agree with Xtian theology, but a bunch of medically-trained Xtians, or even enthusiastic amateurs who can assist with simpler tasks under supervision, going over to help can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Sci-fi's are known for shenanigans akin to the pointing you refer to, which means that the most productive thing they will be doing is getting in the way of the people who can actually do any good. You can guarantee, however, that they will spin this in the same way as they spin their drug rehab clinics etc, and be one step closer to being recognised as a "good organisation" despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

      And I really had to struggle not to say something about them doing stupid things and getting slaughtered being A Good Thing. Oops?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cult of Xenu

    Were the hackers, or were the failed liberators trying to free people from a cult?

    Sometimes the ends justifies the means.

    Just ask G W Bush or A. Blair.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    prison sentence?

    wtf? the dude should have got a cash reward!!!

    posted anon because,... well, isn't it obvious?

  22. Jess--

    Something not right here

    "Defendant used that software to, without authorization, access the COS websites"

    could they please supply a list of software or people that *ARE AUTHORISED* to access their website.

    of course they will have to provide this in written form sent by post to every member of the human race so there is no possibility that anyone wouldn't know the right software to access their public website with.

    P.S. El Reg I assume Chrome is an authorised piece of software to access your website with

  23. Mad Dave

    @Jess and everyone else

    You don't need authorisation to access any website, but you do if you're going to carry out security testing which will render it inoperable.

    The guy got what was coming to him.

  24. Pat Volk

    Silly kids...

    If you want Scientology to look silly, just let them talk. I know various established critics warned Anonymous to control their zeal. Let them eat caek!

  25. Snert Lee


    Perhaps Mr Mettenbrink had been informed that the Church of Scientology was a "fair game" target.

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