Feeds

Hacker's record credit card theft fetches 20-year sentence

Millions pwned

The essential guide to IT transformation

Confessed TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for orchestrating one of the largest thefts of payment card numbers in history.

The sentence, by US District Court Judge Patti Saris, is the lengthiest to be imposed in a US hacking or identity prosecution. Miami-based Gonzalez was also fined $25,000 and still faces restitution charges that could be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Prosecutors told the judge Gonzalez should receive 25 years because he victimized millions of people and cost banks and their insurers as much as $200m. His attorney, Martin Weinberg, challenged that estimate and presented evidence his client suffered from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

Last year, Gonzalez pleaded guilty in three separate cases brought in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Thursday's sentence in Boston dealt only with the Massachusetts case. A hearing scheduled for Friday will deal with the other two prosecutions.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez led a gang of hackers who conducted war-driving campaigns that identified retailers with weak wireless networks. They then penetrated those networks and installed sniffer programs that siphoned millions of credit and debit card numbers as they were being zapped to payment processors.

The operation targeted a variety of retailers and restaurants including TJX Cos. and BJ's Wholesale Club, Office Max, Barnes & Noble and Dave & Busters restaurant chain. Thursday's sentence came the same day Dave & Busters agreed to implement a comprehensive security program to settle US Federal Trade Commission charges the restaurant left consumers vulnerable to credit card thieves.

During much of the operation, Gonzalez was an informant for the US Secret Service, for which he earned $75,000 a year. Wired.com has much more here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.