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.

Mitnick began his hacking career at the age of 12 using social engineering - the process of manipulating people or individuals into divulging private information.

By the early 1990s, Mitnick was one of the most wanted computer criminal in American history, hacking into systems at Nokia, Sun Microsystems, and Motorola.

The authorities eventually caught up with Mitnick in 1995, who had been on the run for two years at this point, following a previous conviction for hacking into Digital Equipment Corporation's (DEC) computer system using a phone number a friend had given him.

Mitnick received 46 months in prison, as well as an additional 22 months for evading his previous supervised release.

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Matthew Weigman

Earlier this year, legally blind American hacker Matthew Weigman was sentenced to 11 years in prison after charges of phone hacking - or phone phreaking.

Weigman used his telephone hacking skills to hack systems at Sprint, eavesdrop on private calls, and even stage a hoax hostage situation in 2005 that directed police to the Colorado home of a man whose daughter refused to have phone sex with him.

Weigman, who was regarded as one of the best phone hackers in the world by his late teens was sentenced to 135 months in prison, with little hope of a reduced sentence, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Kevin Lee Poulsen

Known as 'Dark Dante' during his hacking days in the 1980s, Poulsen engaged in a number of hacks that ultimately earned him the notoriety of being America's best-known cyber-criminal - he was even featured on NBC's Unsolved Mysteries prior to his arrest.

Poulson was tried in June 1994, pleading guilty to seven counts of mail, wire and computer fraud, obstruction of justice, and money laundering, receiving 51 months in prison and a charge of $56,000 in restitution.

Vladimir Levin

Russian-born Levin concocted one of the most successful wire hacks in history extracting $10.7 million from Citibank in 1994.

Authorities eventually caught up with Levin at Stansted Airport while he attempted to board a flight to Moscow. Following his arrest, Levin was extradited to the US where he was sentenced to three years in jail, and ordered to pay restitution charges of $240,015.

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