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The Great Cyberheist 57

theodp writes "In this week's cover story, the NY Times Magazine delves into the mind of Albert Gonzalez, the hacker who is currently doing time (the longest sentence ever handed down for computer crime in the US) for masterminding attacks on the nation's leading retailers, reportedly costing TJ Maxx, Heartland, and other victimized companies more than $400 million. And that may just be the tip of the iceberg. 'The majority of the stuff I hacked was never brought into public light,' said one of Gonzalez's partners-in-crime. Another claims there 'were major chains and big hacks that would dwarf TJX. I'm just waiting for them to indict us for the rest of them.' Online fraud is still rampant in the US, but statistics show a major drop in 2009 from previous years when Gonzalez was active. While reportedly not a gifted programmer, even the Feds that Gonzalez two-timed admired his ingenuity, likening him to top CEOs. When asked how Gonzalez rated among criminal hackers, a prosecutor replied: 'As a leader? Unparalleled. Unparalleled in his ability to coordinate contacts and continents and expertise. Unparalleled in that he didn't just get a hack done — he got a hack done, he got the exfiltration of the data done, he got the laundering of the funds done. He was a five-tool player.' Accounting for time served and good behavior, Gonzalez is expected to get out of prison in 2025." Last June Rolling Stone ran a long profile of Albert Gonzalez written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely; they have dusted it off now that producer Eric Eisner has embarked on the development of a feature film based on Erdely's piece.
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The Great Cyberheist

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  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @11:23AM (#34215554)
    All media reports of (caught) cyber-criminals (or just plain "criminals" as they actually are) stresses how talented, or brilliant or "mastermind" they were. None of them were simply petty crooks that just happened to use a comuter rather than a jemmy as their tool of trade.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that the world of the cyber-criminal is wholly populated by geniuses who have "gone bad", or the sorts of people that James Bond regularly vanquishes. Where are all the averagely intelligent, nondescript, stupid-but-lucky criminals who stalk the world of online, as they do the ordinary underworld?

    The answer, I suspect, is that they're the very same people who are described above, but who's skills are exaggerated by police forces all over the world in an attempt at self-aggrandisement. To make their own lucky breaks appear to be much more significant than they actually were. Just as anglers everywhere have stories about the "massive" catches they made when no-one else was around I reckon the police are pursuing the same policy to try and convince the public that they, too are masterminds. Hmmm.

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