A Minnesota man will spend the next 18 years behind bars after carrying out a prolonged campaign of extremely damaging and often bizarre cyberattacks against his neighbors.
The incident that sparked Barry Ardolf's reign of terror occurred on Aug. 2, 2008. Ardolf's new neighbors, Matt and Bethany Kostolnik, had just moved next door, and their then four-year-old son, identified in court documents obtained by Wired as "W.K." wandered into Ardolf's yard.
According to court documents, Ardolf began chasing W.K. around the yard, taunting the child by telling him, "bet you can't touch me." Ardolf, 46, picked up the child and brought him back to his front step, where he then planted "a wet kiss" on the boy's mouth.
Hearing the kiss — her back was turned at the time — Bethany ran upstairs and told her husband Matt, an attorney, "We've just moved next door to a pedophile."
Then the hacking began.
In November 2008, Ardolf, who was employed as a technician at the medical technology company Medtronic, created email accounts and a MySpace page for Matt Kostolnik. Then, in February 2009, he hacked into the Kostolniks' home Wi-Fi network (using a password-cracking software called "aircrack"), and began what would amount to about 40 days of continuous attacks.
During this rampage, Ardolf sent emails containing child pornography to several of Matt Kostolnik's co-workers at his Minneapolis law firm.
About that incident, Matt Kostolnik told the court, "I felt like me and my family were under attack. I went numb that day," the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
He also used Kostolnik's real email account to send an email to Matt's administrative assistant that read, "I was thinking of you on Valentine's Day. I wouldn't mind at all if you wanted to sneak me a kiss when nobody is looking. Remember what Bill Clinton finally fessed up to? I want that from you."
Ardolf also threatened Bethany with fake messages from Matt's co-workers, including one that read, "I know your husband Matt, and I'm going to get him! He's going to pay for getting me pregnant."
It wasn't until Ardolf hijacked Kostolnik's email account to send threatening messages to Vice President Joe Biden that the authorities took notice. On July 21, 2009, two months after Ardolf threatened Biden's life under the guise of the Kostolniks, the FBI searched Ardolf's home and found computers, electronic storage media containing child porn, hacking manuals and even pieces of the Kostolniks' mail under Ardolf's bed.
In addition to his lengthy prison term, Ardolf was fined $10,000 and will have to register as a sex offender when he's released.