RealTime IT News

Law Firm Accused of Cyberattack in Domain Dispute

Steptoe and Johnson, a leading Washington, D.C., law firm, is accused of trying to settle a domain dispute by launching a cyberwar against a cybersquatter that registered its name.

Steptoe is accused of hacking into a server operated by Moore Publishing Co., which operates an information service for investigators called Dig Dirt.

Moore has filed a lawsuit in US District Court against Steptoe, alleging that the law firm repeatedly attempted to hack into its server in August and later launched a denial of service attack against it. The complaint also alleges that a Steptoe employee used a hijacked Internet account to post a message in newsgroups defaming Moore.

Moore is seeking 10 million dollars in damages against Steptoe.

According to Rodney Sweetland, the attorney representing Moore, the attacks appear to have been launched as retaliation when his client registered the Internet address steptoejohnson.com.

"If they contended that my client violated the Lanham Act or was a cybersquatter, there are legitimate means to take care of that. But hacking and denial of service attacks are not part of the legitimate means of dealing with it," Sweetland said.

Sweetland said that Steptoe has not initiated a domain dispute with Network Solutions (NSOL). Steptoe officials were not available for comment.

A speculative cybersquatter, Moore has also registered several other domains that include the names of well known law firms, including kpmgpeatmarwick.com and kirklandellis.com.