US authorities have arrested a man who allegedly plotted to bomb an Amazon data centre, which he believed would “kill off about 70% of the internet”.
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested after receiving a dud explosive device from an undercover FBI agent, and was charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive,
He came to the FBI’s attention after somebody reported his online posts.
If convicted, Mr Pendley could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to investigators, Mr Pendley’s main goal was to damage Amazon’s web server network.
He believed that there were 24 buildings that “run 70% of the internet”, including services used by the CIA and FBI, according to a conversation detailed in the criminal complaint against him.
Damaging them would frustrate the “oligarchy” – or small group of elites – in power in the United States, he believed.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) does play a hugely important role in the modern internet, hosting and processing the information behind many popular online services and websites.
Outages caused by a problem at one centre tend to knock services offline for several hours at most, and often for a limited number of people or for specific sites.
For example, in 2017, a major fault at one US AWS centre knocked sites such as Quora and Trello offline for several hours. And even the total loss by fire of a data centre belonging to European company OVH earlier this year – which disrupted an estimated 3.6 million websites including government portals across Europe – went unnoticed by many internet users.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We would like to thank the FBI for their work in this investigation. We take the safety and security of our staff and customer data incredibly seriously, and constantly review various vectors for any potential threats. We will continue to retain this vigilance about our employees and customers.”