With yesterday's news that notorious spammer Severa has been arrested in Spain, I was wondering what sort of sentence he can expect if he is found guilty of spamming and hacking crimes. Here's a look at five famous hackers and how they paid for the crimes.
Mitnick spent five years in jail, including 8 months in solitary, for breaking into the systems of the Pentagon, Nokia and Motorola. He was convicted of 14 counts of wire fraud and eight counts of possession of unauthorised access devices as well as a few other indiscretions.
While in jail, Mitnick was banned from using a computer and, for a time wasn't allowed to use the phone without strict supervision. When I spoke with him last year, he said law enforcement officials told a judge he needed to be banned from using a phone as it was alleged he could launch an ICBM by whistling into a phone.
It's a ripping story.
Ultimately, Mitnick got his "happily ever after" as he is now a sought after public speaker and runs his own pen testing business. And he has the coolest business cards - the metal card is actually a lock-picking kit.
Assange is Townsville's most famous export and probably the highest profile individual hacker on the planet today. Wanted by authorities in Europe and the United States, he hasn't actually been convicted of any crimes (yet) but has been holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in London for almost five years as he skipped bail when changed with sexual assault from an alleged incident in Sweden.
The list of data Assange's Wikileaks organsation has released is pretty long but documents procured from Chelsea Manning, regarding covert US activities, and the recent leaks of email from the Democratic National Congress during the 2016 Presidential Election would be near the top of his greatest hits.
So, Assange current "incarceration" is voluntary - other than he will definitely be arrested should he make an exit from his current abode.
Aleksandr Panin and Hamza Bendelladj
Panin and Bendelladj were convicted and are serving nine and half and 15 years respectively for developing and distributing the "SpyEye" malware.
According to the Department of Justice in the US, the SpyEye banking Trojan from 2010-2012 was used by a global syndicate of cybercriminals to infect over 50 million computers, netting them around a billion dollars from individuals and financial institutions around the world.
It took authorities about four years to track down these guys and convict them.
McKinnon, aka Solo, is credited with launching the biggest military hack of all time, shutting down the US Military’s Washington Network of about 2000 computers for 24 hours. And just to add salt to his victim's wound, he posted a message on the mititary's web site saying "Your security is crap".
The Scot launched his attacks from his girlfriend's aunt's place but was eventually tracked down.
The legal proceedings around his case were quite complex. There were calls to extradite him form the UK to the US but after several years, British PM Teresa May, while she was serving as Home-Secretary blocked the extradition as McKinnon is seriously ill.
She said: "Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes. But there is also no doubt that he is seriously ill [...] He has Asperger's syndrome, and suffers from depressive illness. Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."
While all this was happening, McKinnon was subject to strict bail conditions.
Kopçak, a 26 year old Turkish man, copped a whopping 334 year sentence (surely 100 years would be enough of a deterrent!) for identity theft and bank fraud in his native Turkey.
He operated a phishing scam and bogus website that collected personal data from victims. Interestingly, he was initially sentenced to "just" 199 years, seven months and ten days after 43 people made complaints. But during his trial, another 11 people popped up and he was tried again with another 135 years added to the sentence.
So, while Kopçak clearly broke the law, one may question the sanity of the sentencing judge!
US authorities have arrested a reportedly shady character who goes by the alias 'Severa' in Spain. Severa, whose real name is Pyotr Levashov, is a Russian spammer who is listed at Number 7 in Spamhaus' Top 10 Spammer list. It's alleged Severa was involved in the "hacking" of the recent US Presidential election. But what is hacking an election? Aren't all elections "hacked" in the sense that parties dig up and release dirt on each other in the hope of influencing the outcome?