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TJX sniffer author jailed for two years

First of the gang

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The malware coder who wrote the sniffer program used in the infamous TJX credit card heist has been jailed for two years.

Stephen Watt, 25, from New York, was also order to spend a further three years on probation following his release. He was also ordered to pay $171.5m in restitution.

Watts was part of a gang led by Alberto Gonzalez that captured more than 40 million credit and debit card records from TJX and other retailers between 2003 and 2007. The gang typically used the insecure wireless networks of retail branches to launch deeper attacks on corporate systems, ultimately targeting credit card databases.

A statement by the Attorney General's Office in Boston explains that "Watt modified and provided a 'sniffer' program used by the conspirators to monitor and capture the data crossing TJX’s computer network". The New Yorker pleaded guilty to fraud and cybercrime offences in October 2008 prior to a sentencing hearing last week.

Watt, a seven foot tall former Morgan Stanley software engineer (see Wired's profile/sentencing story here), is the first of the gang to be sentenced. ®

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