FBI's Secret Spyware Tracks Down Teen Who Made Bomb Threats

The author made good on the latter threat, and a denial-of-service attack smacked the North Thurston Public Schools computer network, generating a relatively modest 1 million packets an hour. Responding to the bomb threat, school administrators ordered an evacuation of the high school, but, once again, no explosives were found.

That began a bizarre cat-and-mouse game between law enforcement and school officials and the ersatz cyberterrorist, who e-mailed a new hoax bomb threat every day for several days, each triggering a new evacuation. Each threat used the same pseudonym, but was sent from a different, newly created Gmail account to complicate tracing efforts.

On June 7, the hoaxer started issuing threats through other online mediums. In his most brazen move, he set up a MySpace profile called Timberlinebombinfo and sent friend requests to 33 classmates.

The whole time he was daring law enforcement officials to trace him. "The e-mail was sent over a newly made Gmail account, from overseas in a foreign country," he wrote in one message. "Seeing as you're too stupid to trace the e-mail back lets (sic) get serious," he taunted in another. "Maybe you should hire Bill Gates to tell you that it is coming from Italy. HAHAHA. Oh wait. I already told you that it's coming from Italy."

As promised, attempts to trace the hoaxer dead-ended at a hacked server in Grumello del Monte, Italy. The FBI's Seattle Division contacted the FBI legal attaché in Rome, who provided an official request to the Italian national police for assistance. But on June 12, perhaps fed up with the mocking, the FBI applied for and obtained a search warrant authorizing the bureau to send the CIPAV to the Timberlinebombinfo MySpace profile. Court documents reveal the search warrant was "executed" June 13 at 5:49 p.m. Though the CIPAV provided a wealth of information, Glazebrook's IP address would have been enough to guide the FBI to the teen's front door.

John Sinclair, Glazebrook's attorney, says his client never intended to blow anything up -- "it was a prank from the get-go" -- but admits he hacked into computers in Italy to launder his activities, and that he launched the denial-of-service attack against the school district's network.

Glazebrook was sentenced Monday to 90 days in custody, and given credit for 32 days he's spent behind bars since his arrest. When he's released he'll be on two years' probation with internet and computer restrictions, and he's been expelled from high school. The teen is being held at the Thurston County Juvenile Detention Center, where he will serve out his sentence, says Sinclair.

Sinclair says he was told that the FBI had tracked down his client in response to a request from local police -- but that he didn't know exactly how the bureau did it. "The prosecutor made it clear that they wouldn't indicate how this device works or how they do it," says Sinclair. "For obvious reasons."

Larry Carr, a spokesman with the FBI's Seattle field office, couldn't confirm that the CIPAV is the same software previously known as Magic Lantern, but emphasized that the bureau's technological capabilities have grown since the 2001 report. The case shows that FBI scientists are equipped to handle internet threats, says Carr.

"It sends a message that, if you're going to try and do stuff like this online, that we have the ability to track individuals' movements online and bring the case to resolution."

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