McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A South Texas man with links to the hacking collective Anonymous is facing additional charges for attempting to illegally access Internet servers on thousands of occasions, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Fourteen hacking-related charges have been filed against 27-year-old Fidel Salinas of Donna. He was indicted last year for attempting to gain unauthorized access to the Hidalgo County website.
The latest indictment contends Salinas in 2011 and 2012 repeatedly tried to gain access to websites for Hidalgo County, the La Joya school district and The Monitor newspaper in McAllen. He used a computer program to launch more than 14,000 attempts to access the county website over a two-day period in January 2012, prosecutors said in a news release.
The episode cost the county $10,000 to respond to the attack.
Salinas initially told FBI agents who arrested him last year that he was just checking to see if he could get into the website to alert network administrators of security problems.
Authorities said the news release that Salinas allegedly was found to frequent a chat room run by Anonymous meant to discuss ways to undermine security measures. Anonymous is a loosely organized worldwide hacking group that has stolen confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business.
But Salinas' defense attorney, Alma Garza, said Thursday that Salinas has no connection to the group, and argues Anonymous is no more than a chat room in which anyone can enter and engage in online conversation.
She said Salinas will plead not guilty.
"They can't make a case against my client," Garza said, adding that the federal case against Salinas has dragged on for two years.
Each of the charges against him carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.