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Former YouSendIt CEO admits to cyber attack on the company

June 28, 2011|Nathan Olivarez-Giles

The former chief executive of YouSendIt, a website where users can post files too large to send over email, has admitted to launching an online attack against the company he once ran.

Khalid Shaikh, who is one of YouSendIt's co-founders, pleaded guilty last week in a San Jose court to the "transmission of a code to cause damage to a protected computer."

Shaikh helped start the file-sharing site in 2004 and served as the CEO until August 2005, when he became the company's chief technology officer; he left the firm in November 2006, according to a statement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to FBI investigators, from about December 2008 to June 2009, Shaikh sent an ApacheBench program to YouSendIt's servers, which measured the number of requests per second the site was capable of handling. Sending the program multiple times in essence amounted to a distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS attack.

"By intentionally transmitting the ApacheBench program to YouSendIt's servers, Mr. Shaikh was able to overwhelm the servers' capabilities and render it unable to handle legitimate network traffic," the FBI said in a statement.

Officals at YouSendIt were unavailable for comment Monday. According to YouSendIt's website, the site has more than 18 million users and is used for more than 20 million file transfers each month, across 192 countries.

Shaikh has been released on $100,000 bail and is set to be sentenced Sept. 29. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, as well as possible restitution fines, the FBI said.

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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