Months into 2012 – the year the world’s supposed to come to an end – hackers have been very busy keeping their hands out of their pockets and deep into their victims’. Police walked their legs off and handcuffed the guilty – many of whom didn’t step out of boyhood yet.
Police nabbed a pack of hackers this year, one more notorious than the next. Though they were painted as dangerous criminal minds working in secretive and sophisticated headquarters, many were just teenagers playing on a computer in their 12-foot room.
The year also brought some fresh premieres for the cyber-goers. Bredolab virus creator was recently locked up, this being the first punishment for cybercrime by an Armenian court. Also, Austrian cops nabbed a 15-year old, the youngest hacker ever jailed in the country. HOTforSecurity made a top 10 list with the most popular internet security arrests so far this year.
1. Unmasked Anonymous
A big Interpol operation made headlines in February, when 25 hackers suspected as part of Anonymous were arrested in Europe and Latin America. Police seized credit cards and cash from the suspects, who ranged in age from 17 to 40. Police brainstormed for a cool name of the action that got baptized as Operation “Unmask”.
2. Youngest hacker in Austria
In April, Austrian authorities lowered their cyber arrest age when imprisoning a 15-year-old. Instead of doing his Physics homework, the boy allegedly hacked an average of three websites a day. Months passed until the arrest, so he managed to build up a portfolio of 259 hacked companies. Under questioning, the young man said he was bored and wanted to prove himself.
3. Bredolab virus architect
Georgy Avanesov, the man who elaborated and then spread the Bredolab virus, has just been sentenced to four years in prison in Armenia. This was the first punishment for cybercrime in the country. The 27-year-old Russian citizen with Armenian roots infected 30 million computers worldwide, mainly by selling his goods to interested clients.
4. Norwegians arrested over SOCA attack
This month, the jail alarm clock rang for two Norwegians, arrested over the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency DDoS attack. The two men (aged 18 and 19) apparently hacked other targets too, such as the Norwegian financial services group DNB and Germany’s Bild newspaper. “We have arrested the two we think were most important in these attacks, but we still want to talk to more people,” prosecutors explained. And they say Police doesn’t like to communicate!
5. Anti-Abortion hacker
An extreme example for supporting a cause got a former software engineer in trouble. In March, 27-year-old James Jeffery was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after hacking The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides about 53,000 annual abortions in the UK. Since his arrest, the website continued to be hijacked by other anti-abortion supporters.
6. LulzSec members busted
Swift action has been taken in the LulzSec arrests this year. After catching leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, who operated as “Sabu,” the feds busted five other men. According to reports, Monsegur has been snitching on his buddies for the FBI. “This is devastating to the organization,” an FBI official said. “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”
7. Hotline prank
In April, a bad prank got teenagers arrested in the UK. Police imprisoned two boys, ages 16 and 17, who made hoax phone calls to a hotline set up to report terrorism activities. The group called itself TeaMp0isoN.
8. Romanian hacker
A 20-year-old IT student was arrested in Romania for breaking into US Army servers and exposing their internet security shortfalls. TinKode, real name Razvan Manole Cernaianu, had hacked the Pentagon, NASA, and the Britain’s Royal Navy. Police had clear evidence of his actions – because he bragged about it online.
9. Facebook arrest
A 26-year-old Brit was jailed for hacking into Facebook, but released four months after winning the appeal. Steven Mangham said he just wanted to point out the network’s security flaws. In court, the computer science student promised to rebuild his reputation and even considered a security job. At the same time, he pledged to wear a tag, live and sleep at his home address, and keep off the internet. He was not the only Facebook hacker arrested this year in the UK. 21-year-old Gareth Crosskey was sentenced to one year in prison after hacking into a private Facebook account and email.
10. Online banking fraud
In March, detectives in the UK nabbed a 37-year-old man suspected of online banking fraud. The investigation followed a report from a high street bank that online accounts had been compromised for a year and a half. Victims accounts had been accessed without authority, money stolen and personal details altered.
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