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.

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