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Second TJX hack suspect cops a plea

Nine still pleading not guilty

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A second suspected hacker in the TJX breach case has pleaded guilty.

Christopher Scott, 25 and of Miami, Florida, has admitted his role in hacking into weakly secured wireless networks at retail outlets, a key component in a much more ambitious attack that harvested an estimated 45.7 million card records at TJX alone last year. Scott admitted computer hacking, access device fraud and identity theft offences as part of a plea bargaining arrangement. He faces a sentence of up to 22 years in jail and a fine of anywhere up to $1m for his crimes, AP reports.

Scott is the second suspect in the case to plead guilty. Damon Patrick Toey, 23 and also from Miami, copped a plea earlier this month.

Alleged cybercrime kingpin - Albert Gonzalez - who faces a possible lifetime sentence if convicted, has entered not guilty pleas. The other eight suspects in the case hail from former Soviet republics (Ukraine, Estonia and Belarus) and China. None have entered pleas.

Prosecutors allege hacking and credit card number fencing and counterfeiting on a massive scale against the gang.

Investigators reckon the group stole payment card data after hacking into the systems of retailers, mostly using Wi-Fi security flaws as the gateway onto corporate networks, before concealing the data on encrypted servers in the US and Eastern Europe. This data was used to either make counterfeit cards (which were subsequently cashed out) or sold on to other crooks, prosecutors allege.

As well as TJX, other retailers including Barnes & Noble, BJ’s Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, DSW and Forever 21 have been named as victims in the case in an indictment filed last month (summary here). ®

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