In the lengthiest sentence yet handed down in an identity or hacking prosecution, confessed TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for orchestrating one of the largest theft of payment card numbers in history.
IDG News Service – BOSTON — As his parents and sister silently wept, hacker mastermind Albert Gonzalez was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to two concurrent 20-year stints in prison for his role in what prosecutors called the “unparalleled” theft of millions of credit and debit card numbers from major U.S. retailers.
“I stand before you humbled by these past 24 months,” Gonzalez said. “I’m guilty not only of exploiting complicated networks, but also of exploiting personal relationships.”
SANS Institute editor Stephen Northcutt had this to say in a recent issue of SANS NewsBites (Vol. 12 Num. 23):
It seems sensible to me to make stealing 45 million identities a more serious crime than selling marijuana, not that I support either. When you steal identities you hurt so many innocent people. When you sell Marijuana, the damage, if any, occurs in the lungs and brains of the people that willingly used the drug. Yet…it appears to me that in the past people received stiffer sentences marijuana sales than for identity theft. I believe both should be illegal, but that identity theft is the more harmful crime. Nothing against Mr. Gonzalez, but if he is sentenced to a serious number of years, it could send a signal to the criminals of the world there is a downside to identity theft.
Well, the signal has been sent. Personally, I don’t believe that any non-violent crime should be subject to lengthy terms of incarceration, but that’s a subject for a different post at a different blog at another time.
The cyber-criminals in the huge international crime rings who run most of the major botnets and steal most of the money won’t even blink at this.