Feds: Ex-worker charged with hacking Dan's Papers website

A Farmingdale man was charged Wednesday with hacking into a website operated by his former employer, Dan's Papers, and removing it from results on search engines such as Google and Yahoo, federal authorities said.

Christopher Gardiner, 28, had been let go as a Web administrator and Web designer for danshamptons.com by the time he hacked into the site on Dec. 10, according to the arrest warrant filed by the FBI.

The hacking caused Dan's Papers to lose revenue because it disappeared from Internet search results for several days, the FBI said.


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The agency's cybercrime investigators began looking into the case when an information technology director at Dan's Papers, a popular Hamptons weekly, contacted the FBI on Dec. 17, court papers said. He told agents that someone had altered an important software file that can make a website's pages invisible to Internet searches, court papers said.

Investigators verified that a new file had been uploaded to the site's server, and they used the hacker's IP address -- a number that shows the computer's owner and location -- to find him, the warrant said.

The hacker's computer was traced to Gardiner and a Westhampton address, where he lived before he moved to Farmingdale in March, court papers said.

Gardiner had worked for Dan's Papers between April 2011 and June 19, 2012, court papers said, and he had the computer server's login and password information, which remained the same after he left. Some time last summer, he called the information technology director to propose redesigning the weekly's website and was turned down, the FBI said.

Gardiner, a British citizen, was arrested Wednesday morning at his home, 115 Fallwood Pkwy., and charged with two crimes: knowingly causing transmission of a program, information, code or command that results in damage to a protected computer; and intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization, causing damage.

He was released on $50,000 bond after his arraignment. He faces up to 10 years if convicted. His federal public defender, Randi Chavis, declined to comment.

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