Hackers: Crimes and punishments

Many feel Gary McKinnon’s possible extradition to the US is harsh punishment. We look at ten other hackers from around the world to see how their punishments weigh up against their crimes.

The high profile case of UK hacker Gary McKinnon has brought the subject of hacking back into serious debate within the mainstream media.

Rumoured to face 70 years in prison if extradited to America, McKinnon just lost another appeal in front of the courts.

With the McKinnon case in mind, we look at the individual cases of ten additional hackers - their crimes, and most importantly, the severity of their sentencing.

Jonathan James

Jonathan James, aka C0mrade, was only 16 years old when he was caught and formally charged for snooping around inside the US’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) server.

James managed to install a backdoor into the server that allowed him access to sensitive emails, as well as employees’ usernames and passwords. Additionally, James was accused of hacking into NASA and stealing $1.7 million worth of software.

James, because of his age, got off rather lightly - particularly, when you compare his case to McKinnon’s - with six months in prison and a ban permitting him from using a personal computer.

Jon Paul Oson

Oson, a 38-year-old network engineer from San Diego, illegally hacked into his former employer’s network in a malicious revenge stunt.

The Council of Community Health Clinics (CCC) network at the time provided services to 17 regional health clinics in San Diego and the imperial counties of California - including medical records and test results. Once inside, Oson erased important patient data and billing information, potentially placing thousands of peoples’ lives in danger.

Oson was formally charged in 2008, receiving five years in prison and made to pay $144,358.83 to the CCC and $264,979.00 to the NCHS.

Maksym Yastremskiy (aka Maksik)

Maksik, according to the US, was part of the cyber crime gang that hacked into the Wi-Fi networks of several major US retail chains, compromising over 45 million credit and debit cards. The hackers successfully infiltrated the networks of OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Boston Market, Sports Authority, Forever 21, DSW, BJ’s Wholesale Club, T.J. Maxx, and Marshall’s.

Obviously, the US were keen to get Maksik extradited. However, it was the Turkish authorities that finally caught up with Maksik first - ironically, whilst he was holidaying there.

Following his arrest by Turkish authorities in July 2007, Maksik, was formally charged with hacking 12 Turkish banks and received 30 years in prison, as well as a hefty fine of $23,200. The US will have to wait at least 30 years before they can even think about beginning the extradition process.