A 32-year old Florida man has been charged with hacking into computer systems at two major universities and helping to launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on servers managed by Akamai.

According to US Attorney Michael Sullivan, John Bombard was charged on Tuesday with two counts of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorisation. If convicted, he would face up to two years in prison followed by one year of supervised release and a $200,000 fine on each charge. Akamai spokesman Jeff Young said the company couldn't comment on the matter because the charges were still pending.

Akamai distributes online content and business processes over a network of computer servers. On 14 June 2004, it suffered a significant increase in Web traffic to a number of its Domain Name System (DNS) servers, Sullivan said That increase was caused by the DDoS attack against Akamai's global traffic management servers, which served many customers. Access to the websites of those customers was slowed and in some cases completely blocked by the attack.

According to the statement, the attack against Akamai's infrastructure allegedly originated from a bot network that received its instructions from a series of computers, including ones located at two major universities, the identities of which have not been made public.

Bombard is accused of compromising those computer systems using a variant of the Gaobot worm and then allegedly directing communication from the university computers to the bot network from a computer located on his domain, "f0r.org".

The case was investigated by the FBI before the charges against Bombard were filed.