ST. LOUIS • A man from St. Louis who now lives in California was behind a series of online attacks against an Israeli organization, a recently unsealed federal indictment claims.
Jonathan Cowden, 27, used online tools to attack Nefesh B’Nefesh, an Israeli organization that assists immigrants to that country, between November 2011 and Jan. 17, 2012, the indictment says. Cowden stole data, damaged computers and boasted about his exploits on Twitter as “_AnonymouSTL_” and elsewhere, it claims.
Cowden was indicted Jan. 9 on a charge of accessing a protected computer without authorization, but the indictment was sealed until Cowden’s arrest Jan. 18 in San Diego, where he moved last summer, court documents show.
He pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court here.
After the brief hearing, his attorney, Bill Margulis, declined to comment, as did Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bodenhausen.
In court documents, Cowden told court officials that he earns $4,000 a month working for a company that advertises its ability to keep companies’ online data safe. In at least one online profile, he bills himself as a “White Hat” hacker, someone who helps organizations identify security vulnerabilities.
According to a cyber attack timeline on Hackmageddon.com, the Nefesh incident was part of a series of attacks against Israeli targets. The total cost of the breach was estimated at $180,000, and Nefesh had 594 names, addresses and encrypted passwords stolen, the site says.