Two months into their hunt for the hackers behind February's crippling attacks on leading Internet sites, authorities' announcement Wednesday that they have arrested a 15-year-old in Montreal appears to resolve only part of an immense and intricate case.
And perhaps only the easiest part.
The teen, known online as ''Mafiaboy,'' has so far been connected to only one of more than half a dozen attacks. He appears to have made a number of clumsy mistakes that made investigators' work easier. And many security experts believe law enforcement is now left with the more daunting take of chasing other hackers who probably were far more careful to cover their tracks.
Mafiaboy, whose name was not released by authorities because he is a minor, was charged with orchestrating a ''denial of service'' attack that shut down the CNN Web site for more than four hours on Feb. 8.
The arrest followed two months of intense investigative work by dozens of FBI agents and officers with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Attorney General Janet Reno described the arrest as a major breakthrough.
But even as authorities filed their first charges in a case that some believed might never be solved, there are indications that investigators' hardest work still lies ahead of them.
For starters, many security experts say Mafiaboy was easy prey. By most accounts, he appears to have been a copycat hacker who used clumsy techniques and called attention to himself in a number of online postings at the time of the attacks.
And while authorities say it's possible he will face additional charges, there is no indication so far that he had anything to do with the initial assaults on Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon.com and other sites.
Unless authorities can establish a connection between Mafiaboy and those attacks, many security experts believe investigators will be hard-pressed to unmask hackers who so far seem to have avoided making any obvious blunders.
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