New Zealand Teen Hacker Escapes Charges

Could work for police

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[ Technology]

A New Zealand teenager who confessed to a major role in a worldwide cyber-crime ring, which led to millions of dollars of losses, was discharged from court yesterday without any conviction.

Owen Thor Walker

Owen Thor Walker, 18, who used the alias "Akill" online, was ordered by the court to pay $10,000 in damages and turn over his computer related assets.

New Zealand police are impressed with the skills of Walker and are considering offering him a position fighting cybercrime.

Police found out last November after a yearlong investigation involving the FBI and authorities in the Netherlands that the "mastermind" they were trying to find was Walker, who was using a computer in his bedroom in the rural town of Whitianga.

Walker used a botnet to control more than a million computers around the globe. Software he created and sold to cyber criminals allowed them to steal users names and passwords along with credit card information. He did not take money from people’s accounts, but received $31,000 for the software he designed and sold to hackers.

The FBI estimated the financial losses from the hacking activities and damage to computer systems at over $20 million.

The crime received attention after one attack caused computers to crash at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.

In court, Walker, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, smiled as he listened to the prosecution talk about how international investigators considered his skills to be "amongst the most advanced " they had come across.

Judge Judith Potter called Walker a person with a bright future but who was unable to set boundaries for himself in relation to his "undoubted expertise" in computers.


New Zealand Teen Hacker Escapes Charges
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  • http://www.fiancee-visa.net Fiancee visa attorney

    I think this is one of the only times that crime might actually pay. Which is unfortunate that it is being rewarded for being a criminal buy offering this kid a job.

    • treo90user21

      There is some logic in allowing this kid to work for law enforcement…After all can you come up with anyone better to get into the mind of a hacker than another hacker?

      I don’t have any reason to believe that this is the first time a hacker has been offered a job by law enforcement, and I have no doubts this will be the last.  Think about it…Law enforcement would like to have the best and the brightest on their side, so why not recruit from the best and brightest of the other side?  Law enforcement could learn a thing or two on how to track these guys down faster from kids like this one.

      Any way you really look at it, if they offer this kid a job out of this it will benifit the average citizen, he still will have a long way to go before he pays off the fine, and if he helps the law track down hackers, or can develop ways to keep hackers out, then why not give the kid a job?

      According to the story, he himself did not take any money from people’s accounts, his crime was one of facilitation, he was selling software that was able to gain information from people for the purpose of stealing money.

      Since he was able to develop this software on his own, imagine what he could do if asked to create defensive software to protect against this type of attack.  Remeber a driving force of creativity can be profit, why let talents like these go unused when they could be used to help the law?  He created a software with a profitable audience, now why not let law enforcement decide to become a profitable audience too?  Lord knows they could use the help, and if his skills are as good as they seem to believe them to be, why not see what he can do on the side of the law?

      The crime isn’t paying here, the skills that would otherwise be lost sitting in a jail cell are.  Skills that could some day protect people like you and me, or anyone reading this story.  The type of skills this kid is reported to have are an ever evolving skillset, without use on one side of the board or the other they would waste away.

      Would you want those skills to be lost rather than used by law enforcement? Or would you rather see this kid teach law enforcement just how he was able to do it and how to defend against it?

      I for one would rather see them offer this kid a job helping them learn what they need to do to stop these types of crimes before they occur.  And as far as I know nobody does any work for free.

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