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A South Australian hacker who admits using banking Trojan malware to infect more than 2,300 computers and steal personal information wants to go from poacher to gamekeeper once his legal problems are behind him.

Anthony Scott Harrison, 20, also admitted modifying unspecified Trojan software before selling it on to other cyber-crooks in pleading guilty to seven charges – including four hacking offences – at a hearing at the South Australian District Court. The VXer pleaded guilty to hacking offences back in July. More details of his crimes, and the circumstances around them, emerged at a pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Defence lawyer John Edwards argued in mitigation that his client got sucked into the world of cybercrime after developing an obsession with computers that started with playing cyber fantasy games to excess from the age of 14, news agency AAP reports.

At one point, Harrison spent 15 hours a day online, playing a simulated hacking game called Slave Hack. The court heard that Harrison made a comparatively small amount of money when he applied his self-taught programming skills to the real world of cybercrime.

Edwards said his client harboured an ambition to become a computer security consultant, an ambition unlikely to be fulfilled at anti-virus firms. Anti-virus firms automatically reject applicants from former VXers, not just because it would damage their reputations but because the skills set needed to create malign code is quite different to the talents in reverse engineering and code analysis typically required from security researchers. Security firms in other market segments are occasionally more flexible.

Harrison faces a sentencing hearing scheduled for 13 January. ®

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