The Cyber Crimes of Albert Gonzalez

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Dear Ms. Kazi, As per your request on the 2nd of November, I am attaching a report analyzing the cyber crimes of Albert Gonzalez. Cyber crime is serious offence and can carry long jail terms for serious offenders. Albert Gonzalez is currently serving a sentence of 20 years for his crimes. Albert was involved in one of the biggest hacking conspiracies in recent times. He was picked up by the authorities for hacking crimes and fell under their watch as they promised to exchange punishment for his services. He proceeded to help the authorities learn much about computer hacking. But still he could not resist crime. Behind the authorities backs he started to involve himself in hacking and cyber crimes. For which he was eventually caught and is currently serving jail time for. This report will detail those crimes. In this report I will detail all the activities Albert Gonzalez was involved in. As well as a general overview of cyber crime and the punishments received by Albert Gonzalez and what should be done about cyber crime and cyber criminals and hackers. I hope this report is insightful and informative. Along with that I hope I can shed some light on cyber crime and the law regarding cyber crimes. Also the punishments that can result from cyber crime. Yours Sincerely, Gibran Ahmad

A REPORT ON THE CYBER CRIMES OF ALBERT GONZALEZ

Executive Summary 1 Introduction2
  1. Aim
  2. Authorizations
  3. Scope
  4. Limitations
Body3 2.1 Cyber crime 2.1.1 Albert Gonzalez 2.1.2 Punishment Conclusions6 Recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7 List of references……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..8

Executive Summary

Cyber crime is a rapidly growing form of crime in the modern world. As we make our way through the 21st century we are finding that our technological world is being penetrated by cyber criminals. Hackers like the one detailed in this report, Albert Gonzalez, prey on innocent victims and rob and steal ruthlessly destroying more than one or two people’s lives. This report will detail cyber crime and al that it has becomes in today’s world. It will also detail Albert Gonzalez and his crimes and the punishment he received for his crimes and the law regarding cyber crime. I will make conclusions as to the punishment dealt to Albert Gonzalez and I will give recommendations on what I think should be done with cyber criminals and hackers such as Albert Gonzalez. This report will carry a close analyzation of cyber crime and the law and the law’s regarding cybercrime and cyber criminals and hackers. Hopefully this report will be of use and highlight the main points of cyber crime and the law. Also it will hopefully be an interesting insight into the particular case of the cyber criminal Albert Gonzalez and how the law has dealt with him.

Introduction

The aim of this report is to detail the crimes of Albert Gonzalez so as to provide an insight into the world of cyber crime and cyber criminals and how the law deals with them and how the law has been made in recent times to deal with the problem of cyber crime. This report has been prepared for Ms. Methab Kazi, my instructor at Management Development Institute, Islamabad. It is through her authorization that this report has been prepared. The scope of this report is to focus on three main areas. Those are, cyber crime, Albert Gonzalez and the punishment dealt to him and the punishments that are imposed for hackers and cyber criminals under the law these days. The limitations of this report are that it cannot cover all the material involved in such a complex topic such as this but can only focus on the brief summation of the one particular case, that of Albert Gonzalez and in doing so shed some light on the subject of cyber crime and the law. Cyber crime is a serious ad growing problem in the modern world. With all the technology available in the world today it is not all as safe as you would like to think. Hackers and cyber criminals have destroyed many a bank account and many people’s lives in their wrongdoings. There is no real definition of cyber crime, but basically ‘It refers to illegal internet mediated activities that often take place in global electronic networks’ (Cyber Crime Law, 2012). Hackers and cyber criminals exploit the wide range of information available about people on the internet. They steal information and data and use it for their own purposes, usually credit card numbers and such which they use to steal money from the average internet user and spend it on themselves. This is known as fraud. Other cyber crimes include trafficking in child pornography, stealing of intellectual property and violating privacy. ‘Cyber crime, especially through the internet, has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment and government’ (M Dennis, 2013). So we can see that cyber crime is a serious problem and there have been many famous cyber criminals in recent times, especially the 21st Century. This report will detail the cyber crimes of a famous cyber criminal in the 21st Century by the name of Albert Gonzalez. It will look at the law regarding cyber crime and the penalties incurred by Albert Gonzalez in his crimes. Albert Gonzalez was known online as ‘CumbaJohnny’. He was the mastermind behind a black market website where hackers could sell information such as stolen credit card numbers, and various other information like passport details and social security numbers. This crime ring went by the name shadowcrew.com. He was arrested for his criminal activities in 2003 and when he came under the possession of the authorities they offered him to switch sides and help them catch cyber criminals. He accepted and became involved with the government of the United States in what they called Operation Firewall. An operation to bring down cyber criminals. He helped the government learn much about cyber crime and with his help 28 different hackers from not only the United States but in six other countries across the world were brought to justice. Their crimes estimated at being worth about 1.7 million dollars US. For his help in catching these criminals he was set free by the United States government and all charges against him were dropped. He was also offered a job with the Secret Service, which he took. But once with the Secret Service, Albert once again turned to his old ways and partnered with another hacker named Makisim Yastremski. He developed a new persona known as ‘soupnazi’ and in partnership with Yastremski formed a new ring of cyber criminals. Gonzalez and his fellow criminals began to drive around town with a powerful antenna and sitting outside in the parking lots of major stores and department stores began to break into the stores systems and steal countless credit card numbers. Gonzalez then used to transfer this information to his friend Yastremski and he would sell the numbers to the highest bidder. Whilst all this was happening Gonzalez stopped working for the Secret Service and started to live large with all the stolen money he was making from his cyber crimes. The Secret Service began to suspect that Gonzalez was up to his old ways but did not have any proof. He had taught them most of what they knew about hacking, and covered his tracks cleverly. But when his partner living in the Ukraine, Yastremski, was caught by the authorities, all the trails led back to Gonzalez and he was once again caught. In August 2008 Gonzalez was indicted in Federal Court. He pleaded guilty to all charges and in March 2010 was sentenced to twenty years in prison. This is to date the harshest sentence or punishment for cyber crime ever handed down in US history. The companies hit by Gonzalez and his men were said to have spent in excess of 400 million dollars to cover their losses. We can see that the penalty incurred by Albert Gonzalez was indeed severe, as it should be. Cyber crime is not something to be taken lightly and the figures of damage held by the companies which included major chains like Target and Barnes and Noble show this. Many people’s lives can be destroyed by the malicious acts of cyber crime. Money that they have worked so hard for is stolen in matter of moments and they are often left with nothing and no compensation. The sentence of twenty years imprisonment for Albert Gonzalez was a fair verdict and his trial was a crucial decision and a major step forward in fighting cyber crime and cyber criminals. The law in regards of cyber crime is serious and as we can see from Gonzalez’s sentence often carries heavy penalties. Though the crimes of Gonzalez were quite a big deal and were on a large scale, even small acts of cyber crime should be heavily punished. The law regarding cyber crime is tight but as we move forward in the 21st century surely there will be more and more cyber crime. ‘The number of cyber attacks is increasing at a rapid rate.’ (Pc Tools, n.d) In the United States in 2009 there was a report made by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is collaboration between the National White Collar Crime Centre and The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The report stated that there had been 336,655 complaints against cyber crime in 2009, which was a 22.3 percent rise from the year before. It also stated that these attacks totaled $559.7 million US dollars, a 111 percent rise from 2008. The law should leave itself open to constant change and reform in the fight against cyber crime. Hopefully the harsh sentence handed down to Albert Gonzalez will serve as a warning to all those future cyber criminals and hackers that wish to break the law. So we can see from all this that there is now in the modern era a serious rising new threat in the world and that threat is cyber crime. Hackers and cyber criminals are the new wave of law breakers in the technological world we live in today. Cyber crime is not limited to just what we have seen in this case which is the theft of money. Fraud and theft of intellectual property are just as much a threat as having your credit card number stolen, so watch out. Be careful what you buy online and what information you choose to share about yourself. These days not even a secure site like Facebook is safe. Any information you put up about yourself online can be stolen or used against you, so it is best to be careful and only buy things you like from trusted secure websites that have an established name in the online market. The case we have seen above is an extreme one as Albert Gonzalez is to date the man carrying the harshest punishment for cyber crime in United States history. The thing is that not only smaller acts of cyber crime and smaller time operators should be heavily punished. The example of Albert Gonzalez has two faces, on one hand it serves as a shining example of how the law can always bring you to justice, but on the other hand the extremities of the crimes may serve as a negative influence on some. The extreme nature of Albert Gonzalez’s crimes could also inspire other men of similar ambitions to try and get away with what he did. So, there are always two sides to the coin. But no matter what challenges we face in the future, whatever type of outrageous acts of cyber crime may be uncovered, the law should remain on top. With changing laws toward cyber crime and changing and evolving with the times and harsher and harsher punishments we should be able to successfully manage the fight against cyber crime.

Conclusions

The conclusions that we can draw from this report are that cyber crime is a serious problem that we are facing in the 21st century. The extreme crimes of one Albert Gonzalez as detailed in this report earned the harshest sentence handed down in United States history. Hacker Gonzalez was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Cyber crime is on the rise and so the law has to rise to meet these individuals that seek to break the law. Harsher and harsher punishments are being imposed for those who are caught doing cyber crime and so they should be. Albert Gonzalez’s sentence of twenty years imprisonment should serve as a severe warning to all those who wish to involve themselves in these kind of malicious acts. Cyber crime is just as wrong as any other major form of breaking the law and should be dealt with accordingly. Individuals should look at the sentencing of Albert Gonzalez and consider carefully the attractiveness and the ease of getting away with these types of acts as compared to the punishments they could receive if caught. In doing this they should be able to conclude that crime never pays.

Recommendations

The recommendations that I am making in light of this report are that the law should take a severe stance against cyber crime and cyber criminals and hackers. The governments in all countries across the world should set up special organizations that deal with cyber theft and cyber crime. These specially developed and specially manned operations should be there to deal with the malicious acts of cyber crime and their victims. They should also be there to investigate cyber crime and try and bring down hackers and cyber criminals. These organizations should be there for the sole purpose of catching cyber crime and cyber criminals. Along with this the governments of countries across the world should look at tightening up the law in their country in regards to cyber crime. Strict regulatory laws and laws defining punishments for cyber crime should be imposed.

List of References

Cyber Crime Law, viewed 28th December 2013 <www.cyber-crime-law.com/> M Dennis, 2013, Cybercrime Encyclopedia Britannica, viewed 28th December 2013 <www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/130595/cybercrime> Pc Tools, viewed 4th January 2014 <www.pctools.com/security-news/harshest-punishment-computer-history>
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