New Zealand Hacker Released As Police, Judge, Prosecutors All Praise His Mad Hacking Skillz

from the resume-builder dept

Well, here's an odd one. A kid in New Zealand who was arrested for creating software used by an online organized crime group to access people's usernames, passwords and credit card details has been released and the charges against him dropped. What's odd about it is all the praise being heaped upon 18-year-old Owen Thor Walker. Prosecutors raved about how the info-grabbing program he wrote was "one of the most advanced they had seen" and the judge said that convicting him would "jeopardise a potentially bright career." Meanwhile, the police noted they "were interested in using his skills to fight cyber-crime." While we usually see police and judges overreact to hacking cases, talking about how dangerous some kid and some code can be, this almost seems like the opposite. Not that the kid should necessarily have been convicted, but all this praise just seems like we've entered backwards-for-a-day world.


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  1.  
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    whitehat, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    not in amerika...

    think this is more a comment on what a civilized place New Zealand must be, where people still have their collective heads screwed on somewhat staight...becuz this would never happen the crazed US of A!

     

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  2.  
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    oneof thetenmillion, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 4:25pm

    Victims....

    Obviously the judge is not one of the ten million infected by this little %&^%.

    Let them talk to him....

     

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  3.  
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    technomage (profile), Jul 16th, 2008 @ 4:28pm

    lolz

    bad hackers get caught and go to jail, good hackers get caught (eventually) and get hired by the people they hack.

     

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  4.  
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    Bill M, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 5:27pm

    I suspect it had more to do with Walker's attitude once he was caught, and his willingness to work with law enforcement to use his talent for good.

     

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    Krubuntu (profile), Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:23pm

    Oh Snap!

    That's it, I'm moving to New Zealand!
    But seriously, although it's refreshing to see the law not overreacting, I must agree that this seems like too little was done. At least equivalent restitution or something but at least they didn't give him 10-20 and create another career criminal.

     

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  6.  
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    Scott, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 7:09pm

    "..he was ordered to pay $9526 in reparations for damage caused to the University of Pennsylvania and $5000 in costs."

    This article does not mention the fine he received, although its nothing compared to the $40,000 he received for doing the job.

    Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=1501832&objectid=10521614

     

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  7.  
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    Hoeppner, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 7:17pm

    It's like the back story of some underdeveloped IT guy in a police anime...

     

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  8.  
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    RJ, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:47pm

    He got paid $30,000 to develop his hack. He didn't infect anyone personally. How about going after the real criminals here, you know, the ones who stole the CCs. Or start prosecuting gun makers for murders involving a gun, too. Or China, for that matter.

     

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  9.  
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    Scott, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 10:43pm

    facts

    He didn't get away free. He pled guilty. Looks like suspended sentence. Reparations and court costs.

    Probably flagged so that every time a botnet incident arises, they'll consider him as a suspect. And he'll be working for 'The Man' now. So they'll know where to find him if he misbehaves again.

    Yes, he got off light, but not free, and I suspect that Bill M was right and that he cooperated with authorities.

     

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  10.  
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    buckwheat, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 10:53pm

    cc

    you guys would probably not find it so amusing if it was your cc numbers he stole.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 11:12pm

    He didn't use the program, he just wrote it. They should go after the people that used it. Unless its illegal to write a program.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 11:30pm

    The rest of the story?

    I wonder if the rest of the story involves him agreeing to turn states evidence and testify. If so, then they would want to pump up his public image and polish his reputation some before they put him on the stand before a jury.

     

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    I am not an Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Eh..

    In New Zealand, I don't think that it's unlawful to write malicious code, just use it. I'm probably wrong, maybe it's Japan or something.

     

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  14.  
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    Random Stranger, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    They failed to mention that the kid only wrote the code, and did not use it to violate the web. He did not partake in the cracker activities.

     

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  15.  
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    me, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    Re: not in amerika...

    its more likley the Kid was offered "a deal", if he came to work for them, where they can kinda watch him....

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 9:36am

    Imagine a criminal system that is focused on rehibilitation rather than punishment

    What would throwing an 18 year old in prison do, other than ruine his life? Would it deter others? Not likely! Didn't we all make mistakes when we were young that could have landed us in jail if we were caught or prosecuted to the full extent?

     

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  17.  
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    Welcome to New Zealand, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 10:17pm

    Ha Ha good old nerds like my self, never under estimate the power of the nerds lol

    Its good living in NZ

     

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  18.  
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    Welcome to New Zealand, Jul 29th, 2008 @ 10:20pm

    It isn't illegal to write malicious code, but if you use it thats another story, its not that hard to but then again I don't write mallod code coz well, hu wants malware infecting their computa

     

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