It was a fruitful year for cyber-crime authorities worldwide, and notorious hackers were arrested with a weekly or even daily frequency. Neither Christmas nor New Year’s Eve put an end to police effervescence in 2013 when it comes to busting cyber-criminals.
We started work on a Top 10 Hacker Arrests at the beginning of December with the assumption that the big fish were already caught, as holidays were coming. We couldn’t be more wrong – we had to wait until the last day of the year. Almost a dozen new arrests were made in December and, just a couple of days ago, Spanish authorities caught eight members of a massive hacking network.
Does this make 2013 the Year of Hacking Dangerously? Considering the amount of DDoS attacks, breaches and high-level hackings and the FBI list of most wanted hackers, this is only the beginning. Many other hackers – white ones excluded – are still out there and are most probably sought by Police.
Here are some of the most notorious hacker arrests in 2013:
1. Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond
Indicted in 2012, Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty in May 2013 to one count of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The 28 year-old was arrested together with several other hacktivists after Lulzsec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu) turned them in.
2. Blackhole mastermind – Paunch – arrested in Russia
In October, Russian police took into custody the mastermind behind Blackhole and Cool – two exploit packs widely used for cyber-attacks. The 27-year-old Dmitry Fedotov known as Paunch allegedly had a monthly income of $50,000 from his illegal activities.
3. Smiling Algerian hacker
In January, Thai police arrested a 24-year old Algerian hacker allegedly behind several ZeuS botnets. The man became famous not only for his presence on the FBI Wanted List, but also for being all smiles when arrested at the Bangkok airport.
4. Five arrested for ‘biggest hacking breach in US history’
In July, four Russians and one Ukrainian were arrested for hacking into major corporate networks in what was considered the largest data breach in US history. The five men face up to 30 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. Victims included NASDAQ, 7-Eleven, JetBlue and Carrefour, three of which accounted for losses of $300 million.
5. Dutch Arrested for Spamhaus DDoS Attack
In April 2013, Spanish police arrested a Dutch man for allegedly breaching Spamhaus in the largest DDoS to date. The 35-year-old Sven Olaf Kamphuis, owner and manager of Dutch hosting provider Cyberbunker, allegedly started the attack in late March after Spamhaus blocked servers hosted by his company.
6. Gozi Creators Arrested in the US
At the beginning of 2013, US authorities also charged three Europeans, including one Russian, for writing and distributing the Gozi malware to steal tens of millions of dollars from bank accounts. Hackers allegedly injected the malware into a million computers worldwide, including 40,000 in the US and several NASA systems. The accused Russian national Nikita Kuzmin risks a maximum penalty of 95 years in prison.
7. Lauri Love arrested for hacking the government
A British man was arrested for allegedly hacking into US military and government computer systems. The 28-year-old Lauri Love has been released on bail until February 2014. Targets included the US Army, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
8. “Hacker” cat arrested in Japan
Not only human hackers were arrested in 2013. Japanese police “arrested” a cat carrying a computer virus that a hacker installed on a memory card attached to its collar. After they were teased for several months with e-mail riddles, cops managed to find the troublesome feline on an island near Tokyo.
9. “Police Virus” hackers arrested in Spain
Spanish police also arrested 10 people allegedly involved in a massive “ransomware” ring. Police estimated the ring infected tens of thousands of users worldwide, stealing over $1.34 million euros a year with a “Police Virus” that blocked computers.
10. Carberp creators handcuffed in Ukraine
In April, the 21-member team that created and distributed the Carberp banking malware was arrested in Ukraine. The cyber-crime group made off with $250 million worldwide by selling the Trojan at a price of $10,000.
2013 was also the year when Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide, just weeks before the start of his federal hacking trial. The 26-year-old was facing a long prison sentence after allegedly hacking JSTOR, a subscription service used by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Hackers and police were also busy in the first quarter of 2012, when authorities walked their legs off and handcuffed the guilty – many of whom hadn’t yet stepped out of boyhood. FBI complaints showed that, in 2012, cyber-criminals stole over $500 million and losses by users tricked over the Internet increased by 8.3 percent from the previous year. Data on cyber-crime losses in 2013 will surely make headlines soon.