MafiaBoy Biography

MafiaBoy was the Internet alias of Michael Calce, a high school student from the middle-class suburban area of the West Island in Montreal, Canada who launched a series of highly publicized denial-of-service attacks in February 2000 against large commercial websites including Yahoo!,, Dell, Inc., E*TRADE, eBay, and CNN.

Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act forbids Canadian news outlets from publication of MafiaBoy's real name in connection with this incident. Non-Canadian media outlets including USA Today and The Register identified the boy's father as 45-year-old John Calce because he was arrested simultaneously on unrelated charges. American journalist James Meek and, later, American computer security critic Rob Rosenberger revealed the attacker to be Calce, who was only 15 years old at the time.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police first noticed Mr. Calce when he started claiming in IRC chatrooms that he was responsible for the attacks. He became the chief suspect when he claimed to have brought down Dell's website, an attack that had not been publicized at that time.

Mr. Calce initially denied responsibility but later pled guilty to most of the charges brought against him. His lawyer insisted the child had only run unsupervised tests to help design an improved firewall, whereas trial records indicated the youth showed no remorse and had expressed a desire to move to Italy for its lax computer crime laws. The Montreal Youth Court sentenced him on September 12, 2001 to eight months of "open custody," one year of probation, restricted use of the Internet, and a small fine.

Matthew Kovar, a senior analyst at the market research firm Yankee Group, generated some publicity when he told reporters the attacks caused USD $1.2 billion in global economic damages. Media outlets would later attribute a then-1.45:1 conversion value of CAD $1.7 billion to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Computer security experts now often cite the larger figure (sometimes incorrectly declaring it in U.S. dollars), but a published report says the trial prosecutor gave the court a figure of roughly $7.5 million.

During the later half of 2005, Mr. Calce wrote as a columnist on computer security topics for the Francophone newspaper Le Journal de Montréal.

In the Autumn of 2008, Mr. Calce, together with journalist Craig Silverman, announced a book, Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken. On October 26, 2008 he appeared on the French-Canadian TV show Tout le Monde en Parle(SEE THIS FRENCH INTERVIEW IN - INTERVIEWS PAGE) to talk about his book. The entire interview (in French) can be seen at the Télévision de Radio-Canada website. An English-language interview is available at: Mafiaboy interview on the hour(SEE IN INTERVIEWS PAGE). The book received generally positive reviews.