General Crime West Coast

Ross Colby Indicted in “Anonymous” Hacking of Peninsula Newspaper Web Sites

A San Francisco man was arraigned this week on federal charges in connection with the 2015 hacking of a Peninsula newspaper company’s web sites. Ross Colby pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose to one count of intentional damage to a protected computer, one count of attempted damage to a protected computer and three counts of misdemeanor computer intrusion, according to court records.

Colby was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 6 in connection with the Sept. 17, 2015 hacking attack on the web sites of Palo Alto-based company Embarcadero Media, which operates weekly newspapers including the Palo Alto Weekly, the Almanac of Menlo Park, Mountain View Voice and the Pleasanton Weekly.

After being hacked, the company’s web sites featured a message and an image of Guy Fawkes, a symbol typically associated with the hacker group Anonymous. The message stated that the company, “failed to remove content that has been harmful to the well-being and safety of others,” warning that, “failure to honor all requests to remove content will lead to the permanent shutdown of all Embarcadero Media Group websites.”

It ended with the presumed slogan of Anonymous: “We do not forgive, we do not forget, we are legion.” Company officials said at the time of the incident that the message didn’t point to any specific article or information. The indictment, which was unsealed on Tuesday, does not specify a motive for the alleged attack. It alleges that Colby caused at least $5,000 in damage to the company’s computer by changing email records at web site server company GoDaddy.com and then canceling the company’s domain names and accessing its email accounts.

Colby was released on $50,000 bail on Tuesday. He is scheduled to return to court in San Jose on May 24 for a status conference.

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