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Staples Sues Unnamed Hacker

November 30, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ Office supply store Staples has filed suit against an unnamed hacker who broke into its Internet site and posted advertisements that led Web browsers to the home page of one of its chief competitors.

In the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston, Framingham-based Staples charged that the hacker, referred to as ``John Doe,″ illegally entered the site and damaged Staples by stealing e-commerce business.

The suit claims that ``John Doe″ lives in or near Massachusetts, and that the company expects to identify him shortly.

The hacker broke into the Staples Internet site on Oct. 9 and posted advertisements for Office Depot. Shoppers who clicked on the Office Depot products were linked to the Office Depot home page. The problem was corrected after about an hour.

In the suit, Staples alleges that, aside from a loss of money, it cost time and money to find and fix the security breach.

Staples officials speculated that changes to the Web page were a prank, and discounted the possibility that its competitors were behind it.

Gary Schweikhart, an Office Depot spokesman, said Tuesday the company was outraged by the computer hack and said Office Depot had no part in it.

``We’re not that dumb and at the same time we would not condone any activity that is illegal and unethical,″ he said.

Federal law calls for a maximum of 10 years in prison if damage is caused as a result of unauthorized access to a computer.

Staples, which did $7 billion in sales last year, launched its Web site a year ago. The company hopes to have 1 million Internet customers and $1 billion in Internet sales by 2003, Lapierre said.

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