Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 10 May 2006 19:24

Spammer gets eight years without the net

By
birdcageYou know a government is really getting serious about spam when courts hand out sentences to cyber crooks normally reserved for violent criminals. However, few of the victims who have had to contend with overflowing spam baskets and compromised computer systems would argue with the sentence handed down to Jeanson James Ancheta this week.
The 21 year old Ancheta has not only received a 57 month jail term for turning 400,000 PCs on the internet into his own personal spam and adware servers, he has also been given an additional three years of restricted access to the internet. That makes nearly eight years of a computerless life for the errant young hacker.

By the time Ancheta is allowed to get near a computer again Apple and Microsoft may have merged to become the world's largest online entertainment provider running its system on Linux servers. Or, perish the thought, computers as we know them today, may no longer exist. Don't laugh - it could happen!

In recent years, the US Government has become progressively tougher with openly defiant spammers imposing increasingly hefty fines. However, imposing billion dollar fines would appear to be fairly useless unless the criminal happened to be Bill Gates, who happens to be vehemently opposed to spam anyway.

In the case of Ancheta, he made a tidy sum out of his stolen network of zombie computers. However, being young and seemingly possessed with the feeling of invicibility that sometimes comes with people of his age, Ancheta took a foolhardy step he could well have avoided. He tried to hack into the systems of two US Government Defence agencies. As he grows older in his particular correctional facility, he will probably come to realise that this was not a particularly good idea in retrospect.

If Ancheta still wants to play with computers when his eight years of no internet are completed, he may consider redeeming himself by emulating the famous ex-fraudster Frank Abignail, who crossed over to the other side and helped the authorities catch the bad guys. Who knows, he may even get a movie made about his life. However, before Hollywood gets any ideas, 2014 is a long way off.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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