|Handcuffs on a computer keyboard. (QMI Agency/SUZANNE BIRD)
VANCOUVER - Vancouver’s Arthur Wesley Kenzie is a self-styled cyber security expert and mobile app developer who’s now accused of using his high-tech skills for nefarious pursuits.
Kenzie is the target of a $1.1-million lawsuit filed by a prominent New York City law firm claiming Kenzie, the managing director at Securikai, intended to extort the company by poking holes in its online security.
The Gioconda Law Group, which specializes in anti-counterfeiting and brand protection, has alleged Kenzie registered the domain name GiocondoLaw.com to capture those who misspelled the firm’s actual site, GiocondaLaw.com.
The suit claims Kenzie then fabricated e-mail accounts to intentionally intercept private e-mails addressed to the firm’s lawyers and staff.
“It was pretty brazen to target an intellectual property law firm in New York,” lawyer Joseph Gioconda said in a telephone interview from New York, adding he’s also filed a complaint with the RCMP.
The allegations have not been proven in court and Kenzie hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit. Kenzie did not respond to several requests for an interview.
Reached at their Vancouver home, Kenzie’s wife said she didn’t know anything about the lawsuit.
The practice Kenzie is alleged to have engaged in is known as typosquatting, where a misspelled domain name is created to mimic a popular website to capitalize on the traffic that comes from mistyped URLs.
Earlier this year, Kenzie was accused of doing something similar to defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.
He was ordered to turn over two domain names similar to the company’s own site after a domain name dispute panel found he was looking to cash in by exposing the company’s online vulnerability.
On his company website, Kenzie defended his actions.
“Clearly I did create an exploit for this vulnerability, but that in itself does not cause me to be some malevolent black hat,” he wrote.
The New York-based lawsuit also claims Kenzie is similarly “harvesting” e-mails intended for recipients at other major corporations, including McDonald’s, MasterCard, NewsCorp and McAfee, the virus software company.