A La Cañada Flintridge resident was arrested on Dec. 9 on charges that he initiated a cyberattack on a San Francisco-based tech company.
Sean Sharma, a 26-year-old La Cañada High School graduate, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Dec. 16 in Northern District of California court.
Sharma was arrested in LCF, after which he was released on a $100,000 bond, according to a statement by the FBI. Sharma, a graduate student studying computer science at USC, is being accused of purchasing a tool to carry out a distributed denial-of-service attack on web servers belonging to Chatango, a company that provides chat services to third-party websites.
The DDoS tool, which directs huge volumes of internet traffic at websites and web servers in order to disable them, was said to cause Chatango losses of more than $5,000 over a two-month period starting Nov. 6, 2014, according to the FBI.
If convicted, Sharma could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine, the FBI said. The case is being prosecuted by the Computer Hacking/Intellectual Property Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and has been investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Division.
A message forwarded to Sharma’s lawyer by the public defender who represented him at the arraignment was not returned.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Sharma graduated from LCHS in 2009. He was captain of the track and field and cross country teams in 2008 and 2009 and earned the team MVP in track those years. His résumé also indicates that he graduated from USC in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Worldwide, there were reports of 34 arrests in 13 countries targeting users of DDoS cyber-attack tools between Dec. 5-9 as part of an international sting operation. According to the BBC, Sharma was among those involved in the sweep, which reportedly included interviews with 101 suspects.