In context: Domain hijacking is the act of illegally taking control over a domain name. It is usually done through a variety of methods including social engineering, exploiting vulnerabilities in a registrar’s system, or phishing.
A man has received a 20-year sentence for “domain hijacking.” The fact that the hijacker attempted to take the domain at gunpoint is what makes this one unique.
According to The Telegraph, Sherman Hopkins Jr of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, broke into the apartment of “internet entrepreneur” Ethan Deyo, wearing pantyhose over his head and dark sunglasses. He threatened Deyo at gunpoint demanding he get on his computer and transfer the registration of his domain name "DoItForState.com" over to another account.
The domain had been inactive for over a month. Deyo had previously used it to host a University of Iowa forum where students could post party images and other aspects of college life. The website's tagline was, "College Stories, College Life, College Snaps."
"Hopkins put the firearm against the victim’s head and ordered him to follow the directions on a piece of paper. Hopkins also took the victim’s cell phone and threw it so that he could not call for help."
Deyo complied with Hopkins’ demands until the registration process asked for a postal address and phone number. When he asked what he should enter, Hopkins beat him with his handgun and used a taser on him several times.
Frustrated that the hijacking was stalled, Hopkins cocked his gun and put it to Deyo’s head. Deyo quickly moved the firearm away, and a struggle commenced. He was able to wrestle the gun away from Hopkins, but not before being shot in the leg. Deyo then shot the assailant several times in the chest, before calling 911.
Hopkins survived and was arrested. He was originally charged with multiple counts including kidnapping and use of a firearm during a violent crime. However, he ended up bargaining a plea deal, and pleaded guilty to one count of “interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence.”
US District Senior Judge Linde Reade called the act "brutal and senseless" and sentenced Hopkins to 20 years in prison.
This case is the first known instance of someone trying to steal a web domain by use of physical force.