Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hackers' Mind-Set: They've Done Nothing Wrong

Jon Swartz writes on USA Today:

Albert Gonzalez appeared to be a reformed hacker. But the onetime government informant was a central character in what Justice Department officials claim was an international cybercrime syndicate that ripped off tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers from large U.S. retailers.

Irving Jose Escobar seemed nothing more than a tough Miami kid with a long rap sheet. Yet last year, he pleaded guilty to his role in a multimillion-dollar scam in Florida tied to Gonzalez's exploit.

What they shared, based on indictments in their separate cases, are key roles in the massive cyberheist at TJX, parent of retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, and the credit card scams that resulted. First disclosed by TJX in January 2007, it is believed to be the largest such theft.

It is unclear whether Gonzalez and Escobar know each other. But each was involved in different scams tied to TJX, according to their respective indictments. The divergent sagas of the hacker Gonzalez and streetwise Escobar represent bookends of the vast digital crime. According to psychiatrists, hackers and computer-security experts, they represent the vanguard of cybercrooks: young, misguided males who rationalize that they've done nothing wrong.

More here.


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