Telescope Hobbyist Gets 2 Years in Prison for DDoS Attack on Astronomy Website

By Matt Novak on at

It’s disorienting enough to have you seeing stars. David Chesley Goodyear, a 44-year-old man from the US state of California, has been sentenced to 26 months in prison for a cyberattack against the world’s largest astronomy forum, Cloudy Nights. Goodyear was apparently angry about getting banned from the website.

Goodyear was found guilty in February of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Cloudy Nights and another website owned by telescope retailer Astronomics in 2016. Or, as Goodyear called it, “A55tronomics.”

A press release by the US Department of Justice states that Goodyear—whom it describes as a “telescope enthusiast”—was banned from the forum under “a variety of aliases” for threatening moderators and others users. After one of his accounts was blocked in August of 2016, the DOJ says he logged in with a new username, posting “pornography and profanity” and threatening to “talk with [his] contacts and just DOS this site as well as A55tronomics.”

Goodyear faced up to 10 years in federal prison but received just over two years. According to the DOJ, Goodyear will have three years of supervised release after he finishes his sentence in federal prison and will have to pay $27,352.51 (£21,408.13) in restitution to Astronomics. From the DOJ release:

The court also fined him $2,500.00. Judge Heaton explained the punishment by pointing out Goodyear’s clear intent to harm Astronomics and the importance of deterring sophisticated cybercrimes, which are difficult to trace and therefore particularly important to punish and thereby send the appropriate message to others.

Two years might seem a bit harsh for a DDoS attack, but you have to remember that America’s justice system takes non-violent crimes very seriously. For instance, hundreds of bankers went to prison after the global financial crisis of 2008 destroyed the American economy and the lives of millions of people. Just kidding. Almost nobody went to prison. And all those bankers are doing most of the same shit they did a decade ago and we’re obviously poised to relive the experience. Because what goes up, must come down, especially when you put your fate in the hands of robots.

Best of luck out there, friends. We’re all going to need it. [US Department of Justice]

Photo: Getty Images