FBI arrests Massachusetts man for Anonymous 2014 cyberattack on Boston Children's Hospital

The hacktivist group launched multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks against the hospital's servers in protest of the controversial custody case of Justina Pelletier.
By Mike Miliard
10:41 AM

The FBI has arrested a hacker suspected of participating in Anonymous' 2014 DDoS attack against Boston Children's Hospital, The Boston Globe has reported. He was taken into custody after being rescued from a small boat off the coast of Cuba by a Disney cruise ship.

Martin Gottesfeld, 31, of Somerville, Massachusetts, was arrested on Feb. 17 in Miami. He's due to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston, where he'll be charged with of conspiring to damage the computers at Boston Children’s and another facility in Framingham, Massachusetts, according to the Globe. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

[Also: Hacker group strikes Boston Children's]

In April 2014 – in protest of the controversial custody case of Justina Pelletier, who was being kept a patient at Boston Children's as a ward of the state against the wishes of her parents – hacktivist group Anonymous launched multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks that targeted the hospital's servers and hamstrung its operations for a week.

According to the Globe, the FBI had previously questioned Gottesfeld in 2014. He admitted then that he had posted a YouTube clip calling for attacks on Boston Children's, but denied participating in them.

It's unclear why he wasn't charged at that time. But a tip this week about his rescue at sea led agents to Florida to take him into custody. He had three laptops with him, according to an FBI affidavit.

In a statement, Boston Children's thanked federal officials for "apprehending the hacker who led the attack and holding him accountable" – also thanking its own employees, "who assisted the FBI throughout its investigation and who helped build the comprehensive systems and procedures that were able to thwart the attack and protect confidential information."

At the 2014 Healthcare IT News Privacy & Security Forum, Boston Children's Hospital Chief Information Officer Daniel Nigrin, MD, spoke about the experience of fighting off the Anonymous cyberattack:

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN